Sunday, July 26, 2009

Via Rail trains to resume service Sunday

TORONTO — Via Rail will resume train service Sunday evening after the company said it reached an agreement with striking locomotive engineers.

In a statement released early Sunday, the Crown corporation said the two sides have agreed to enter into binding arbitration.

"The process proposed by the mediator will allow the parties to resolve outstanding issues and, most importantly, will get Canada's passenger rail service up and running again for our customers," said Via President Paul Cote.

Full service will be returned to most routes by Monday morning.

Via Rail began to shut down the bulk of its passenger service on Tuesday in anticipation of a strike by members of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, the union representing about 340 of the company's locomotive engineers, who pilot the trains. Job action officially began at noon on Friday.

The strike left thousands of travellers stranded and left to deal with other options to get to their destinations. Via had previously been issuing refunds or arranging alternative options for train ticket holders.

The two sides had been discussing wages, benefits, working conditions and terms of workers' contracts using a federal mediator.

"The negotiations have been challenging and we appreciate the support shown by our members during this process. We look forward to having our members back on the trains," said Dan Shewchuk, president of the TCRC, in the statement.

The statement also said the layoffs announced early Saturday of hundreds of other Via Rail employees have been cancelled.

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