Recent Improvements in Accessibility of VIA Rail Services

  • August 27, 2014
  • BakerLaw

Last week, VIA Rail announced the new accessible cabin for two on its Canadian train between Toronto and Vancouver (link to article). VIA Rail announced that the cabin was designed following extensive research of accessibility requirements within the transportation industry.

Via Rail’s accessibility investments over the past few years would not have occurred without the hard work of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), represented by bakerlaw, who waged a protracted legal battle against VIA Rail, a crown corporation, for its determination to keep inaccessible passenger rail cars in service. Ultimately, the protection and equality rights afforded to people with disabilities by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms resulted in the Supreme Court of Canada’s 2007 decision (link to decision), in which the court took a strong stand for a rail service usable by both people with and without disabilities, and against a rail service where people with disabilities could only travel on the days accessible cars were in service.  The decision sent a clear message to VIA Rail that services inaccessible to Canadians with disabilities will not be tolerated.

bakerlaw commends VIA Rail for the progress it has made and is hopeful to see improvement in the accessibility of the considerable remainder of rolling stock and stations.

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