Taxpayer-funded Crown corporation VIA Rail will run at an estimated operating deficit of $411 million this year, according to the company’s newest corporate plan. Despite layoffs and service cuts to try and slow steep losses, the railway is expected to continue to lose money for at least two more years, according to the report.
The railway lost $370.5 million in 2021 and $415.8 million in 2020.
“Demand for travel may only return to or exceed the level seen in 2019 sometime in 2024,” said a Nov. 8 report, Summary of the 2022–2026 Corporate Plan and 2022 Operating and Capital Budgets. “Under such conditions VIA Rail, while continuing to prudently provide needed transportation services to Canadians as it has done throughout 2020 and 2021, will be forced to seek funding.”
Cabinet gave VIA a $187.5 million COVID bailout to cover losses and ongoing deficits in 2021, spread over three fiscal years instead of one.
“VIA Rail drew on $90.4 million in 2020–2021 and $67.5 million in 2021–2022. The remaining $29.6 million will be returned to the Government,” said the VIA report.