This week I had the pleasure of visiting the Maritimes to meet with local officials and transport partners to discuss service improvements. While there, I was given the opportunity to discuss our train service offering in the East on CBC’s Maritime Noon radio program.
For the past few months, we’ve been working on a plan to better serve the Maritime population, and this was our opportunity to communicate the plan to a broad audience and to generate more interest in the train. Service in the East has always been a bit tough to balance in terms of ridership, frequencies and cost. Taking the train from Montreal to Halifax is a 20-hour experience whose merits include time to relax, gorgeous views, meals and WiFi on board. Costing a trip of this nature must take into account the equipment, staff and products needed for the long-distance journey. Therefore, in certain cases, the price of a train ticket might exceed that of a two-hour flight.
Choosing the one-day train over a two-hour flight is a conscious decision. It is a lifestyle choice, an environmental choice and a choice to support your public national transportation service. It is also a really beautiful way to see your country, and one that guarantees time and mind space for creating memories.
During the interview I was asked if the service in the East was at risk of being cut. There is more than one response to this question, but my first response is always that we are “the authors of our own fate”. Plainly speaking: if you value and want to keep train service in your area, you need to take the train!
Our plan to improve service and become more relevant in the East includes new regional daily returns between Moncton – Halifax and Moncton – Cambellton, which will appeal to commuters. We will continue to provide the iconic Ocean long-haul service, but will have more flexibility to adjust frequencies to market demand. For example, the summer season accounts for 50% of our ridership and our revenue in the area. With more flexibility, we can potentially increase the service offering during those months. Another high-ridership time is during the Holiday season. Once again this year, we will be increasing the number of trains during the holidays to make sure that everyone who wants to take the train can take the train.
In conjunction with our schedule enhancement planning, we are also working on improving our onboard offering. Comments from the public (both positive and negative) during my Maritime Noon interview were appreciated and are being addressed. We are doing our utmost to gain popularity in the East and are hoping for the support of the local population.
The more often Maritimers choose to take the train, the stronger we are, and the better we can be of service. Every one of us can make a difference though our conscious efforts.
We hope to see you on board soon!