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 have published our own official Universal 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 is slated to be launched in 2021.

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.

Are you travelling in a wheelchair? Here is what your trip will look like.

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.

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 Ottawa station is the perfect testing ground for many of our accessibility projects, informed by stakeholder collaborations. In 2019, we successfully completed our Clear Station pilot project to develop a solution to assist blind and partially sighted passengers in their journey from curb to platform. We also started a pilot project to explore options for future indoor and outdoor service animal relief areas at our stations. Representatives from the Canadian Council of Disabilities, Courageous Companions, the Canadian Council of the Blind and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind have participated to share insights on how to make travel easier for those accompanied by a service animal.

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.

Upcoming new fully 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

Many improvements have been made in order to remove barriers at Halifax station. We have improved station access through accessible parking spots, elevator refurbishments, renovations to the main entrance and new sliding doors leading to the train to make it easier for everyone to get on board.

VIA Rail Universal Accessibility Policy

At VIA Rail we do more than move passengers. We strive to be Canada’s most accessible national and intercity mode of transportation. Our vision is to be a smarter way to move people by ensuring access to a sustainable, affordable and accessible means of transportation. By promoting better accessibility, we are improving the customer experience for all our passengers as part of a barrier-free Canada.

Principles of Universal Accessibility at VIA Rail

VIA Rail acknowledges and strives to provide service that:

  • is welcoming for all our passengers;
  • provides a safe, comfortable and convenient journey;
  • respects each individual’s autonomy, dignity and independence;
  • enables full participation through an inclusive and intuitive environment; and
  • offers meaningful options for passengers.

Our Commitments

VIA Rail values all our passengers and we pledge the following commitments:

  • Our Culture: We will continue to be agents of transformation to foster a culture of respect and dignity.
  • Leadership: We aim to integrate accessibility into decision-making processes at all levels of our organization so that we can continually improve the passenger experience.
  • Continual Engagement: We value the experience of our passengers and will seek their input to imagine new possibilities for travel on our network. We will report back to you regularly regarding the progress we make.
  • Training: We will equip ourselves with the training and tools needed to serve you well.
  • Communications: We will provide clear and consistent information in a timely manner for all our passengers.
  • Listening to You: We recognize that you know what is best for you and we strive to create an environment where you feel comfortable requesting those services.
  • Barrier-Free Access: We strive to remove barriers and avoid creating new barriers across all our stations, trains and digital platforms.
  • Proactive Design: We will work to provide you with flexible options to access our services.
  • Collaboration: We will create community partnerships to continuously improve accessibility to our services.

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.
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