Government of Canada, VIA Rail Canada and the City of Toronto celebrated the completion of VIA Rail’s new Panorama Lounge, a major project to modernize VIA’s passenger facilities and a significant milestone in the revitalization of Toronto’s historic Union Station.
“Union Station is an important commercial and economic hub for business travellers, tourists and daily commuters,” said the Honourable Steven Fletcher, Minister of State (Transport). “VIA’s new Panorama Lounge is a valuable addition to the many projects our government is supporting to revitalize Union Station, creating jobs and economic growth.”
“This new Panorama Lounge is another step toward a renewed and modernized passenger rail service,” said Paul G. Smith, VIA’s chairman. “Thanks to the support of the Government of Canada, VIA is bringing important capital projects to completion over the coming year that will improve passenger rail services in key areas of our network.”
As the first piece of heritage restoration and improved infrastructure at the station, the 630 square-metre Panorama Lounge has over twice the capacity of the previous lounge. VIA customers began using the newly renovated and improved space at the end of January.
“Trains have played a pivotal role in uniting Canadians throughout our history, and they continue to keep us connected,” said VIA’s president and CEO Marc Laliberté. “This new lounge is a clear signal of VIA’s drive to further strengthen this vital link. It will allow for a more comfortable travel experience for the close to 170,000 Business Class and Sleeper Touring Class passengers that leave Union Station on VIA trains every year.”
The new Panorama Lounge is one of many projects underway at VIA to increase the safety, efficiency and reliability of passenger rail service. The Government of Canada has announced investments totalling 923 million in VIA for capital improvements since 2007, as well as funding of $105 million in Budget 2012 to support VIA operations and capital investment for 2012. The Government of Canada and VIA Rail recently announced schedule improvements on the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal corridor to meet passenger demand, including new daily Toronto-Ottawa express trains – one in each direction - and more frequent service between Ottawa and Montreal.
Located near the Great Hall with views over Front Street, the new Panorama Lounge provides modern amenities while retaining original architectural and design elements such as marble-covered walls and plaster ceilings that tie in with other work to renovate and improve the station.
“Union Station’s revitalization is an important investment in Toronto’s transportation infrastructure and economic future, and the high calibre of architectural design is a bold statement about this historic building as a gateway into a vibrant city,” said Toronto City Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East), and Chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, who represented Mayor Rob Ford at today’s event.
The $4.2 million improvement to the Panorama Lounge is the first major completed element of the overall work that is underway to revitalize Union Station, a $640 million project managed by the City of Toronto. The Government of Canada is contributing a total of $164 million to this project. The Government of Ontario is contributing $172 million and the City of Toronto is contributing the remaining $304 million.