Client: Canadian National Railways
Size: 213mm x 277mm
Not just a symbol
Though CN’s new program to improve passenger services is most visible in the striking color scheme and VIA symbol, there are many other tangible changes being introduced. In this issue, some of those innovations are outlined.
The future of rail passengers is looking good
by Bill Palmer
CN has reaffirmed its commitment to the rail passenger business.
Symbolic of that commitment has been the unveiling of a striking new logo and color scheme for our passenger trains, and the announcement of major train service improvements in the Quebec-Ontario “corridor.”
VIA the logo – is a distinctive visual symbol. We hope it will become as well known across Canada as the CN logo. VIA stands for renewed dynamism in CN passenger train services and incorporates a bold blue and yellow color scheme for all passenger trains.
Six new train services, more sensitive schedules, faster running times and improved on-board services are some of the improvements in corridor train services, which are operated in the densely populated area stretching from Quebec City to Windsor, Ontario. These changes became effective last April.
CN president and chief executive officer Robert Bandeen said that the developments represent a major attempt “to solve some of the many problems curently facing the rail passenger business in Canada.”
He described the federal government’s current subsidy program – which supports the railways for up to 80 per cent of their passenger losses – as a disincentive, “inhibiting us from expanding and developing passenger services on our own initiative.”
“When taking into account the severe financial restraints under which we are currently operating, the improvements and developments which we have announced represent a major step forward,” he said.
Implementation of the color scheme has already begun. Canadian National Turbo trains are being painted a striking yellow, trimmed with dark blue accent markings and letters. The colors will be reversed for conventional passenger equipment with blue the predominant color and yellow the trim. The equipment will be painted as it comes in to CN repair shops for regular maintenance.
Garth Campbell, CN’s vice-president of passenger marketing, said the new logo and color scheme means more than a new coat of paint. “The program dramatizes our commitment to the rail passenger business and encompasses several improvements in passenger amenities,” he said. “VIA stands, quite simply, for the way to go overland – via CN,” he added.
The corridor changes range from an additional afternoon Toronto-Montreal Rapido service to improved Ottawa-Toronto service with an additional mid-day service; from improved Toronto-Chicago connections with Amtrak trains at Detroit to improved club car service throughout the corridor, with new Tempoclub service between Toronto-London-Sarnia and Windsor in southwestern Ontario.
Improvement in rail passenger service is not a new phenomenon at CN.
The company’s record of creative changes in equipment, scheduling, rates, accommodations and other on-board services is generally known. Past progress, however, does indicate the range of change which has taken place.
Over the years, fare structures have been revised, extra trains added, major advertising programs launched and passenger staff training intensified.
As part of the program, a computer reservations system was introduced with the now-familiar horizontal ticket.
In the past few years, CN has spent more than $10 million in refurbishing various passenger cars, including Sceneramic dome cars for operation across the Prairies and through the Rockies, café lounge cars, café bar lounges, club galleys and Dayniters.
Last fall, CN introduced major changes to the red, white and blue plan with the promotion of travel during off-peak periods still the basis.
An interline agreement between Canadian National and Amtrak allows rail travellers from either the United States or Canada to purchase transportation on both national rail lines in a single transaction to any American or Canadian city served by Amtrak or CN.
Passenger service assistants on CN trains provide an additional measure of service in French and English, particularly for the young and old, and for those unfamiliar with train travel or in need of special assistance.
The Turbo’s new color scheme will be adapted to other passenger equipment. That, coupled with the new name for CN passenger services and increased frequency of corridor service, is just the latest in a series of CN innovations in passenger service over the years.
The company’s track record suggests it won’t be the last.