Great news on the accessible rail travel front – Canada’s Via Rail just got nearly $700 million in funding to upgrade their services at Toronto’s Union Station. This is huge news in Canada as it’s the first significant injection of new money in years for cash-strapped Via Rail.
So what has that got to do with access?
Well a portion of the money ($175.9 million) is specifically earmarked for refurbishing the locomotives and passenger cars – and that refurbishing includes upgrading the accessible sleeping cars. Earlier this year the Canadian Supreme Court ruled Via Rail had to make their Renaissance rail cars (used on the popular overnight VIA train between Montreal and Toronto) more accessible.
Access improvements mandated by the court include widening the doors and adding wheelchair tie-downs to the accessible suites, modifying the economy washrooms, installing companion seats for the economy class wheelchair tie-down spaces and adding more moveable armrests to the economy class cars.
And now they have the money to make this ruling a reality.