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Via Rail supports Clean Air Day

(Via Rail issued the following news release on May 23.)

MONTREAL -- VIA Rail Canada today announced it is a proud sponsor of activities in support of a reduction of atmospheric pollution, culminating with the 11th annual edition of Clean Air Day next June 7th.

Clean Air Day will be marked by Transport 2000 Québec on the esplanade of Place Ville Marie in downtown Montreal, where activities are planned with information stands for the general public. The event is designed to raise public awareness on the benefit of environmentally friendly modes of transportation.

"The sponsorship of Clean Air Day is a logical extension of environmental activities carried on by VIA Rail for more than a decade," said John Marginson, VIA's Chief Operating Officer. "Since 1990, VIA has succeeded in reducing fuel consumption by 25% per passenger kilometre, which reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by the corporation by 13%. The company's efforts are continuing."

Transportation is generally recognized as a significant contributor to GHG emissions, with a full 50% of GHG emissions in Canada coming from cars. Passenger rail transportation, however, is a low contributor, accounting for only 0.03% of Canadian GHG emissions. This, in spite of the fact VIA carried a record 4.1 million passengers over 888 million passenger-miles in 2005.

The fuel efficiency improvements at VIA started with modernizing the company's Transcontinental equipment in the 1990s and continued with the purchase of 21 cleaner-running locomotives in 2001. The efforts are continuing. VIA has started work on a prototype for rebuilding the engines of its older locomotives to meet the highest environmental standards. VIA is also planning to overhaul the electrical systems in its older LRC cars by converting to the more efficient and longer-lasting LED lighting where possible, using new high-efficiency motors to operate doors and other systems, and installing new microprocessor controls for heating and cooling systems.


"But VIA's environmental initiatives are not limited to fuel consumption and reducing GHGs," said Mr. Marginson. "The company has for some time dedicated significant effort to changing the way our operations impact the environment."

In 2005, VIA earned the Railway Association of Canada's Environmental Protection Award for a linen recovery and recycling program of old uniforms and damaged linen which are donated to charitable organizations for reuse. This program is run by local volunteer-led "Green Teams". Also in 2005, Green Teams organized Earth Day celebrations across the country, co-ordinated VIA's participation in Car Free Day in Montreal and in a special one-day session, invited employees to adopt measures that would reduce emissions generated by their personal activities.

The corporation has also increased the emphasis it places on purchasing environmentally-friendly products. VIA's Annual Report and timetables, for example, are now printed on paper produced in an environmentally responsible manner. "Clean Air Day is worthy of support from all and VIA Rail is an enthusiastic sponsor," said Mr. Marginson.

As Canada's national passenger rail service, VIA Rail Canada's mandate is to provide efficient, environmentally responsible and cost effective passenger transportation services, both in Canada's business corridor and in remote and rural regions of the country. VIA serves more than 450 communities with a network of inter-city, transcontinental and regional trains. Demand continues to grow as more Canadians turn to train travel as a safe, convenient and responsible travel option.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

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