VIA Rail's New Baggage Policy: A Burden on Passengers and Workers Alike

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|November 30, 2023

MONTREAL - VIA Rail Canada’s new baggage policy and reservation system introduces sweeping changes that are catching passengers and workers off-guard as rail travel gears up for the holiday season.

“Instead of making train travel more accessible VIA Rail's new policy only complicates it,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National President. “It's unfortunate to see passenger rail become more cumbersome at a time when ease and affordability in green public transportation is more important than ever.”

VIA Rail's new baggage and reservation policies launched on November 18, 2023 and are already having a negative impact on passengers' wallets and travel experience. Travelers will now encounter seat selection and baggage fees similar to budget airlines, directly leading to higher travel costs. Particularly affected are students and economy class passengers, with students losing their previously entitled second free bag and economy travelers facing stricter luggage size limits. Additionally, Sleeper and Prestige class passengers will face revised cabin baggage allowances and checked baggage limits.

“These changes hit hard when people are already stretched thin and we've moved so far away from VIA Rail’s original mandate of providing an affordable service to Canadians,” Jennifer Murray, Atlantic Regional Director. “Our members are on the front lines, witnessing first-hand how such policies inconvenience travelers and complicate our working conditions.”

Unifor’s Get Canada Back on Track campaign advocates for an expansion of publicly-owned passenger rail in Canada. The campaign stresses the need for a public transport system that caters to environmental sustainability, safety, and the well-being of Canadian travelers and workers. 

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For more information, please contact Unifor National Communications Representative Hamid Osman: [email protected] or (647) 448-2823.

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Unifor is a Canadian union with a modern, inclusive approach to serving members and improving our workplaces and communities.