Providing accessible transport for all Canadians

  Girl in wheel chair with male friend standing next to her in train station near accessible ramp

VIA Rail is committed to being one of the most accessible mobility options in Canada by providing a smarter way to move people. All people.

We understand the importance of offering barrier-free transport, which is why we have taken important actions to create an environment in which all people can travel autonomously and confidently.

We participated in the launch of the proposed Accessible Canada Act, and we are also working hard on our own official accessibility policy to ensure that VIA Rail not only achieves the goals of this legislation but exceeds them whenever possible. Our three‑year accessibility plan will be launched by June 2020.

Improving accessibility at each point of your journey

Booking your trip

No matter where you’re going, booking your trip is the first step. We are improving our online and over-the-phone reservation systems to make the process easier for all travellers, including those with limitations.

Getting to the station

We are working with our partners to provide accessible transport services to stations and to ensure that we have the necessary infrastructure to accommodate all travellers.

At the station

Getting around the station easily, enjoying a functional waiting area, and having access to convenient amenities are important for your trip. We’ve thought all of these aspects through and strive to improve each one.

Boarding the train

We’re continuously improving accessibility within our network of stations. Nevertheless, platform and train access can still be tricky. Our staff is always on hand to help passengers who require boarding assistance.

The onboard experience

Comfort. For every traveller. Including travellers with functional limitations or disabilities and their attendants. This is one of the first things we think about when tailoring our trains and onboard services to our clients’ needs.

Arriving at your destination

From helping passengers disembark to ensuring access to adapted transport, we do everything to guarantee our passengers reach their destination without a hitch.

Award-winning solutions for the blind and partially sighted

In response to a challenge put forth by the International Union of Railways to develop a solution to assist blind and partially sighted passengers in their journey from curb to platform, VIA Rail launched the innovative Clear Station pilot project.

Inclusive consultations with organizations representing blind and partially sighted persons were initiated at the beginning of the process. The knowledge gained at these meetings was crucial to the success of the project.

For the next phase, and before being launched officially, the Clear Station concept will be tested at VIA Rail-owned stations between Montréal and Ottawa.

During the 2019 Association québecoise des transports (AQTr) gala, VIA Rail’s Clear Station won the people’s choice award. VIA Rail also received the ambassador’s award for its innovative and technical realization aligned with its sustainable mobility objectives.

The Ottawa station: our innovative accessibility lab

Our station in Ottawa has been the perfect testing ground for many of our accessibility projects. Given that VIA Rail owns the building and surrounding land, we have been able to dedicate time and resources to transforming it into our flagship station in terms of accessibility and sustainability. Structurally, we have removed barriers from curb to platform and made it easier for everyone to move seamlessly through the station.

Accessibility initiatives across Canada

Service animal relief areas

We are testing out solutions to provide safe and clean spaces—both inside and outside Ottawa station—where passengers can take their pets to relieve themselves. This small act will be a big help for those travelling with service animals.

An accessible business lounge at Ottawa station

As the leader in accessibility among VIA Rail’s stations, Ottawa continues its efforts to create an accessible business lounge. Improvements will include an accessible self‑service food and beverage area and spaces dedicated to passengers with functional limitations.

In-station sensitivity room

Away from the crowds at Toronto’s Union Station, we are piloting a special waiting room which will serve as a peaceful haven for parents travelling with a child who has a disability. Adults with disabilities can also use it as a quiet retreat while they await their train.

Universally accessible fleet

Designed to improve the travel experience for all Canadians, our upcoming new fleet of trains will exceed industry standards for accessible modes of transportation, and will improve the travel experience for reduced mobility passengers and their caretakers.

Better station access in Halifax

In the upcoming months, many improvements will be made in order to remove barriers at Halifax station. The addition of new accessible parking spots, the elevator refurbishment, the renovation of the main entrance to full accessibility, and new sliding doors leading to the train will make it easier for everyone to get on board.

Our partners in accessibility

Our accessibility projects begin with gaining a deeper knowledge of the challenges, concerns, and needs of our passengers, their families, and their companion travellers. We are proud of the collaborative partnerships we have built with organizations that represent people with disabilities.

Partners Logos: Canadian council of the blind, cophan, Lethbridge-Leyton-Mackay Rehabilitation Center, cnib vision health vision hope, RAPLIQ, Kéroul, Council of Canadians with Disabilities.