Via Rail didn’t try to hide the fact it would benefit financially from a promotional offer for Canada’s military to ride the rails for free during the month of July, a spokesman says.

“Surely, with any promotion that Via or any other company puts in place, you also have to at the same time make a business case for it,” said Malcolm Andrews, a spokesman for Via Rail Canada.

The Crown corporation was the subject of criticism yesterday after a report based on an internal document obtained by the Canadian Press said the rail company’s motives may not have been completely altruistic.


It suggested the offer was an attempt to increase revenues during July, the slowest travel month of the year.

The president of Via announced the deal last month at the Halifax train station, saying it was a gesture of appreciation for members of the Canadian Forces.

The offer provides all members, past or present, with free rail travel on Via trains across the country during July and family members receive a 50 per cent discount to join them.

Andrews said the business decision was the result of a “two-pronged” approach.

Via officials wanted to find a time when military personnel would be able to take advantage of the offer and found many of them take leave in July.

And they wanted to choose a month when seats would actually be available for booking.
“The fact there will be a revenue stream is simply a business fact and not the underlying motive for sure,” he added.

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