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Compliance Report: VIA Rail Canada

Table of contents


The Canadian Transportation Agency (Agency) is responsible for ensuring that undue obstacles to the mobility of persons with disabilities are removed from the federal transportation system; specifically, in respect of air, rail, and extra-provincial ferry and bus transportation. It seeks to remove such obstacles by:

  • developing regulations and codes of practice;
  • communicating with the transportation industry and the community of persons with disabilities;
  • resolving individual accessibility-related disputes; and by ordering corrective measures as required.

In addition to enforcement measures, the Agency ensures compliance with its rulings, regulations and codes of practice through periodic monitoring exercises. The Agency has adopted a risk-based approach for monitoring compliance and works closely with industry and other parties to assist them in areas where compliance has not been achieved.

As part of its regular monitoring, the Agency assessed the compliance level of VIA Rail Canada (VIA), Canada’s national passenger rail carrier.

This report describes the results of this monitoring.

How the monitoring was done

As part of this monitoring, VIA agreed to use a self-assessment tool. The Agency also examined VIA’s Web site, its policies and procedures, and followed up with VIA as needed.

What was assessed

The Agency assessed VIA’s compliance with certain provisions from the Code of Practice: Passenger Rail Car Accessibility and Terms and Conditions of Carriage by Rail of Persons with Disabilities (Rail Code) and the Code of Practice: Removing Communication Barriers for Travellers with Disabilities (Communication Code) that cover the following topics:

  • General accessibility features of passenger cars (coach, sleeping, lounge and dining cars)
  • Coach cars with a wheelchair tie-down (e.g., location of wheelchair tie-downs, doorways, washrooms, armrests)
  • Wheelchair-accessible sleeping cars (e.g., number of cars, accessibility features)
  • Procedures for the maintenance of passenger rail car accessibility features
  • Services to be provided to persons with disabilities
  • Administrative services (e.g., how information on available services is provided, seat assignment practices, etc.)
  • Policies in place for damaged or lost mobility aids
  • Telecommunication systems for reservations and information (e.g., TTYs − teletypewriters or "text phones" − for use by persons with hearing or speech impairments)
  • Designated seating for passengers with disabilities
  • Communication of rail car equipment features (e.g., washroom features)

For more information on the areas that were monitored, please refer to the Rail Code and the Communication Code.

Findings of the monitoring exercise

The results of the monitoring show that VIA complies with the accessibility standards that were assessed, with the exception, as discussed below, of the Rail Code provision regarding tactile seat markers.Footnote 1

Tactile seat markers

Section 1.2.9 of the Rail Code states that tactile row numbers should be placed on passenger aisle seats in coach cars. VIA indicated that it has installed tactile row markers on all of its Renaissance cars, the rail carrier’s newest equipment, which were brought into service in the summer of 2002.

In terms of VIA’s older equipment, the Agency will work with VIA to explore ways to also have tactile row markers installed or otherwise facilitate independent access for persons with visual impairments.

Future action

The Agency will continue to monitor the accessibility of the federal transportation system to ensure that customers with disabilities can travel without encountering undue obstacles to their mobility.

For further information:

Canadian Transportation Agency
Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0N9
Tel: 1-888-222-2592
TTY: 1-800-669-5575



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