More riders opt for Via Rail’s popular Toronto-Ottawa line over holidays

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The train line between Ottawa and Toronto – already one of Via Rail’s most popular routes – continued to draw more passengers over the 2018-19 holiday travel period.

The national rail company said Thursday that 37,400 people rode the Ottawa-Toronto service between Dec. 18 and Jan. 7, some 1,500 more passengers than the year before and again its most popular travel route of the season. Additionally, a total of 78,000 people passed through the Ottawa train station during the holidays, roughly equal to the previous year’s figures.

The trip between Toronto and Ottawa has been gaining in popularity in recent years, with Via announcing in 2017 that it would add a 10th daily round trip between the Ontario cities on weekdays in response to a 40-per-cent increase in traffic over four years.

Via Rail’s full Qu​ébec City-Windsor route saw 283,000 passengers over the holidays, an decrease of three per cent year-over-year. Across Canada, nearly 300,000 people opted to travel by train over the holidays, 9,000 fewer riders than the year before.

Despite the drop in overall passenger numbers, Via Rail reported revenues of $21.1 million for the period, which CEO Yves Desjardins‑Siciliano said in a statement was the company’s best financial performance in a decade.