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Monday, March 18, 2013

VIA Rail announces on-board entertainment

Coming Soon to a train near you...
CBC/Radio-Canada, NFB and the Historica-Dominion Institute programming available on VIA Rail trains

Toronto, March 11, 2013 - VIA Rail Canada has partnered with CBC/Radio-Canada, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and The Historica-Dominion Institute to announce the On-board Entertainment initiative, an interactive digital platform providing passengers on VIA Rail trains free access to Canadian programming.

Starting in Spring 2013, the new interactive digital platform will provide passengers on VIA Rail trains within the Québec City - Windsor corridor free access to Canadian programming, including CBC/Radio-Canada TV shows programs, documentaries and animation from the NFB, and "Heritage Minutes" vignettes and Memory Project veteran interviews produced by The Historica-Dominion Institute.

"Over the past two years, VIA Rail passengers have become accustomed to world-class Wi-Fi on our trains. Today, we are pleased to extend our Wi-Fi offer with entertainment and information produced by Canadians, for Canadians. Canadian culture is known for its rich diversity demonstrated by the artistic creativity of its people. Canadians can be proud of the many artisans, authors, actors and producers who create distinctive, original and innovative audiovisual works that honour them on the international stage. VIA Rail Canada is happy to promote them to its passengers," stated Marc Laliberté, President and Chief Executive Officer of VIA Rail Canada.

By offering VIA Rail customers the chance to watch movies, television shows and news programs presented in the country's two official languages, the On-board Entertainment system will promote high quality Canadian productions.

VIA Rail's On-Board Entertainment portal is the only system of its kind on a train in North America. It will present movies and other programming from the NFB and CBC/Radio-Canada collections, in addition to regular daily newscasts from CBC/Radio-Canada. Over time, this interactive digital platform will host other Canadian content from participating organizations.

"This partnership with VIA Rail is yet another way for us to reach Canadians when, where and how they want," said CBC/Radio-Canada President and CEO Hubert T. Lacroix. "Not only does it attest to the high quality and rich variety of our programming, but it's a superb opportunity for the public broadcaster to bring its news and general programming to a wider audience in both English and French."

"Well before Twitter and Facebook, the railroad was the quintessential network bringing Canadians together", added Tom Perlmutter, Government Film Commissioner and NFB Chairperson. "As symbol and as reality our VIA Rail train network has proved enduring and necessary. So we are delighted to partner with VIA Rail and CBC/Radio-Canada, to strengthen the ties that bind us together in ways that innovate, delight and inform. I applaud VIA Rail for this bold and imaginative initiative that truly serves Canadians."

"We are delighted to be offering the Heritage Minutes collection and other history programming as part of VIA Rail's new on-board experience," said Anthony Wilson-Smith, President of The Historica-Dominion Institute. "This is a tremendous opportunity to share Canadian stories with travellers across the country."
VIA's intermodal strategy saw the number of connections between VIA Rail and its various partners increase by 119% compared to 2011. On average, 160 customers per day purchased a ticket from VIA Rail's website with the intention of using the services of more than one transportation company.

As a result of operational improvements, the Corporation is confident that it will reach its budget goals for 2012 and will continue to improve its financial performance for a 3rd consecutive year by reducing government funding (before contributions to pension funds).

"These results prove that our efforts to use public funding judiciously are working. Even though there is still a lot to do, the increase in average revenue per passenger and that of the occupancy rates for the Ocean and the Canadian are proof that our strategy to adjust scheduling frequency according to market demand was the right one. All our efforts are ultimately aimed at making VIA Rail's services financially and commercially viable," affirmed Mr. Laliberté.

The On-board Entertainment initiative required a total investment of $543,000 by VIA Rail. This program is part of VIA Rail's modernization plan launched in 2007, and was made possible by the nearly $1 billion in capital funding announced by the Government of Canada since 2007 to rebuild aging equipment, refurbish stations, upgrade infrastructure, improve accessibility and support critical information technology projects. This investment includes $407 million under the Economic Action Plan and $60 million in Budget 2012.

About CBC/Radio-Canada
CBC/Radio-Canada (cbc.radio-canada.ca) is Canada's national public broadcaster and one of its largest cultural institutions. The Corporation is a leader in reaching Canadians on new platforms and delivers a comprehensive range of radio, television, Internet and satellite-based services. Deeply rooted in the regions, CBC/Radio-Canada is the only domestic broadcaster to offer diverse regional and cultural perspectives in English, French and eight Aboriginal languages.

About the NFB
The National Film Board of Canada creates groundbreaking, interactive works, social-issue documentaries and auteur animation. The NFB's award-winning content can be seen at NFB.ca and on apps for smartphones, tablets and connected TV. Canada's public producer and distributor since 1939, the NFB has created over 13,000 productions and won over 5,000 awards, including 6 Webbys, 12 Oscars and more than 90 Genies.

About The Historica-Dominion Institute
The Historica-Dominion Institute is the largest, independent charitable organization dedicated to promoting Canadian history, citizenship and identity. Its mandate is to build active and informed citizens through a greater knowledge and appreciation of the history, heritage and stories of Canada. Visit www.historica-dominion.ca.

About VIA Rail Canada
As Canada's national rail passenger service, VIA Rail Canada's mandate is to provide safe, efficient and cost-effective passenger transportation in the country's two official languages. The Company operates intercity, regional and transcontinental trains linking 450 communities across its 12,500-kilometre network. Recipient of the RAC's Safety Award in 2012 for the 11th time in 12 years, and of the 2012 Agent's Choice Award voted on by Canadian travel agents and presented by Baxter Travel Media, VIA safely transports nearly four million passengers annually. Since 2007, the Government of Canada has provided VIA Rail with nearly one billion dollars in capital investment funding. Follow the evolution of current projects at viarail.ca/transformingVIA.

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