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Thursday, September 13, 2012

VIA Rail opens new Belleville, Ont. train station

Belleville, ON, September 12, 2012 - Earlier today, as part of the ongoing modernization of VIA Rail Canada, Mr. Daryl Kramp, Member of Parliament for Prince Edward-Hastings on behalf of the Honourable Steven Fletcher, Minister of State (Transport), officially opened the new Belleville train station, overhead walkway and island platform.

"Our government is proud to support projects like the new VIA Rail Belleville Station that create local jobs and boost the economy", said MP Kramp on behalf of the Honourable Steven Fletcher, Minister of State (Transport).

"This new and modern station is just one of many upgrades to VIA's stations, tracks, passenger cars, and locomotives infrastructure in the busy Windsor-Toronto-Montreal corridor, resulting in faster, and more reliable service for all VIA rail passengers."

 VIA Rail's new Belleville station, walkway and platform, which began serving passengers in March 2012, is fully accessible. The new station, designed to complement the adjacent heritage station, has high ceilings, modern masonry and bright colours. From the waiting area, a wall of windows offers unobstructed views of the overhead walkway, island platform and tracks. An in-station Wi-Fi system has also been installed. The new station is also more energy efficient, with high-efficiency windows and insulation materials as well as LED lighting in all exterior lampposts.

Funding for this $18M project came from the Government of Canada's nearly $1B investment in VIA Rail since 2007 to create jobs and economic growth while improving VIA Rail's facilities, equipment and infrastructure, and included $2.5M from Canada's Economic Action Plan.

Belleville's original station was built in 1856 and received a Heritage designation in 1973. The heritage station will remain on site, next to the new station. "The old station was simply not big enough to accommodate the growing number of passengers", explained Marc Beaulieu, VIA Rail's Regional General Manager (East) and Chief of Transportation. "The new overhead walkway leading to an island platform will allow us to accommodate more trains. In addition, the new building has the capacity for many more travellers, aligning VIA for potential growth in ridership in the years to come."

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About VIA Rail Canada
As Canada's national rail passenger service, VIA Rail Canada's (viarail.ca) has a mandate to provide Canadian travellers with safe, efficient, and cost-effective passenger transportation services in the country's two official languages. VIA operates intercity, regional and transcontinental train services linking 450 communities through its 12,500-kilometre network. Winner of the 2011 RAC Safety Award, VIA Rail safely transports more than four million passengers annually. In 2007, the Government of Canada invested almost a billion dollars in VIA Rail. Follow our transformation at viarail.ca/TransformingVIA.

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About the new Belleville Station
The project was carried out in conjunction with a $350 million program to upgrade the rail infrastructure throughout the CN Kingston Subdivision between Montreal and Toronto. It is made possible by an unprecedented $923 million capital investment in the national passenger rail service by the federal government, which will allow VIA to deliver efficient, reliable, faster and more frequent passenger train services across the country in the years ahead.

  • The need for a new station
    The Kingston Subdivision infrastructure improvements include building additional lines of track, which will allow passenger and freight trains to overtake and pass each other without needing to slow down or stop on a siding.  One new main line is being added at Belleville. This means that a new "island boarding platform" located between tracks was necessary at the station, reached by an overhead bridge by passengers to ensure their safety.
The existing station, built in 1856, could not be redesigned efficiently to allow for the overhead bridge and island platform facilities.  In addition, passenger volumes have exceeded the capacity of the original station, and are expected to keep growing.  In a passenger network serving some 450 communities, Belleville is VIA's 10th busiest station.  It is a key access hub on the Kingston subdivision which carries approximately 130 passenger, freight and commuter trains each weekday.
  • A modern, attractive facility
    The design of the new station responds to the needs and expectations of Canadian travellers in the 21st century, providing a relaxing and welcoming experience for customers, and reinforcing VIA's market position as the more "human" way to travel.

    VIA is recognized as the green choice for travellers concerned about the environment, and delivers an attractive service that is encouraging more and more people to get out of their cars and onto passenger trains. The key to VIA's success has been its renowned onboard service and customer care, focused on making train travel the best possible travel experience for its customers.

    VIA designed the new Belleville facility to extend this attention to detail and customer care to the station itself, making arrival and departure part of that experience. Design features include:
    • Fully accessible features from the parking lot to the platform for passengers with disabilities.
    • An efficient and aesthetically pleasing layout to ensure smooth passenger flows, along with comfortable and relaxing waiting areas.
    • Large, ample windows to allow plenty of light and views outside, including views of train arrivals and departures from multiple vantage points.
    • Wider boarding platforms and expanded waiting areas.
    • Attention to details such as making electrical outlets easily accessible for customers with laptops, who want to make productive use of their time in the station.
    • Parking and drop-off facilities designed for the convenience of customers.
    • Landscaping that preserves and reinforces a natural environment, including existing trees and plantings.

  • A partnership with the community
    The new station design reflects and enhances Belleville's cultural heritage and environment, and was developed in consultation with the community it serves.

    The new station is located adjacent to the former one, which is a designated heritage property. Its design and appearance were inspired by the design of the original building. VIA is working with the City of Belleville and other local groups to develop new uses for the old station which will best serve the needs of the community.

Designed for future growth
VIA designed the new station to accommodate future needs, as passenger demand continues to grow. For example:
  • The design includes expanded facilities for ticket purchases to handle increasing passenger volumes in the future.
  • Waiting areas have been designed to allow the addition of food and beverage service concessions in the future.

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