VIA Rail to Upgrade Passenger Cabins

VIA Rail Canada will initiate a $19.5 million program to reconfigure 12 of the stainless steel passenger cars used on its western transcontinental train, the Canadian, to increase its accessibility and market appeal.

The eight Chateau sleeping cars will be reconfigured with an all-new arrangement of six upscale cabins designed to accommodate up to three passengers each. Each sleeping cabin will be completely self-contained and will include an en-suite washroom plus a separate shower. The new cabins will also feature wood paneling, sofa seating, a widescreen TV and controls to enable passengers to raise or lower the beds whenever they desire.

This program will also substantially increase the train's accessibility for travelles with special needs. The four existing Park car bedrooms will be replaced by two large upscale cabins. One will be identical to those in the rebuilt Chateau sleeping cars. The other will be an extra-large, fully-accessible cabin. It will provide separate, fully-accessible washroom and shower facilities. Each Park car will also feature an onboard wheelchair lift.

The work is being funded from the $407 million allocated for passenger rail improvements under the Government of Canada's Economic Action Plan. The cars will be delivered in 2011.

VIA operates 503 intercity, transcontinental and regional trains linking 450 communities.