VIA Rail passengers ran into all kinds of trouble on Wednesday as they tried to travel between Montreal and Toronto during what quickly turned into an ice storm.
The result left many people stranded on VIA Rail trains for hours, while other trips were massively delayed or cancelled altogether because of freezing rain that led to widespread power outages and downed trees across a large area of eastern Ontario.
"Power outages and track obstructions are causing service delays and cancellations in the Montréal-Toronto corridor," VIA Rail said in a Tweet on Wednesday evening.
Several passengers responded to that message asking for more information on their particular situations and delays, some of which had already lasted for a few hours.
\u201cPassengers are starting to revolt. There is a car park with taxis in it right next to us and no one is allowed off. The conductor is trying to get permission but #ViaRail won\u2019t let us off. Many people with flights to catch and the airport is only 30 mins away @CTVNews\u201d— Bella \ud83d\udcf8 Passport & Pixels (@Bella \ud83d\udcf8 Passport & Pixels) 1680732924
"I am one of hundreds of passengers trapped for over 2 hours a train just outside Dorval with flights to catch," wrote @passportandpix. "We are right by a car park with a taxi waiting to take us to the airport for an overnight flight to London."
They attached a picture and asked to be let off the train, which they eventually said they were, after a five-hour delay.
Another passenger was also delayed for the same amount of time and said it was because her train struck a tree.
\u201cthe via \u201ctaking a 5 minute stop to do a manual inspection of the train\u201d turning into \u201cwe hit a rather large tree and it did do some damage to the engine so we are now looking at what our options are to keep moving as safely as possible" is a barrel of monkeys i tell you what :)\u201d— emma (@emma) 1680727382
Emma said VIA Rail eventually gave her a full refund and a 50% voucher for her next trip, which it doesn't sound like she's thrilled about planning just yet.
"It is hilarious that my refund for this 5 hour delay will come in the form of a travel voucher, as though i will ever ever ever feel inclined to use via rail again after this thrilling saga," Emma wrote in another Tweet. "They should ALSO compensate my mom $10,000 for having to heroically drive from london to pick me up in toronto at like 12:30am tonight."
Narcity reached out to VIA Rail Canada for details on Wednesday's delays and the compensation being offered to passengers and received the following statement:
"Due to the large number of reported track obstructions and power outages affecting signals at level crossings, VIA Rail was forced to cancel trains: 39, 48, 54, 59, 68, 69, 668, 669 running between Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto yesterday afternoon/evening. Passengers on trains cancelled yesterday evening will be receiving a full refund and 50% travel credit for their next trip."
VIA Rail also said passengers travelling on Thursday can expect "significant delays."
The reality of these massive delays on VIA Rail came as the result of freezing rain that hit eastern Ontario hard, particularly the Ottawa area.
\u201cHey Ottawa, we know it's been a tough day without power. \n\nThe situation continues to fluctuate as a result of bad road conditions, ice build up and downed trees and power lines. Crews will be working 24/7, and the safety of our workers & the public remain our top priority.\u201d— Hydro Ottawa (@Hydro Ottawa) 1680737520
As of 8:00 a.m. Thursday, a notice on the Hydro Ottawa website said roughly 65,000 customers were still without power.
Power is expected to be restored throughout the day.
Hydro One reported it had restored power to more than 112,000 customers across southern, central and eastern Ontairo by late Wednesday but some 120,000 still don't have electricity.
The situation is far worse in Quebec, where over 1 million customers were without power as of Thursday morning.