Just in time for Family Day weekend. Via Rail cancellations are affecting the whole of Canada right now after the suspension of service was confirmed on February 13. And at Toronto's Union Station, customers are being told to find other modes of transport amid the chaos. Thankfully, Metrolinx has confirmed that GO Transit service will continue.
Via announced on Thursday that it has cancelled all of its train lines across the entirety of Canada in response to ongoing We'tsuwet'en protest blockades along the tracks.
The transit company's statement reads: "Following an advisory from the infrastructure owner that they are ceasing to support our operations across their network, VIA Rail has no other option but to cancel its services, effective immediately and until further notice."
It says it is providing full refunds for all cancelled trips, which are being automatically processed.
"You do not need to contact VIA Rail to confirm the refund, but note that due to the volume of transactions it may take up to 15 days to receive," the statement assures.
There is some redeeming news for those customers based in or close to the city of Toronto, though.
CN's CEO JJ Ruest has confirmed that both CN and Metrolinx have verified that the GO Train and UP Express services will continue in spite of the shutdown, per the Toronto Sun's Bryan Passifiume.
That's as long as it remains safe to do so in the eyes of those running the services. Metrolinx insists it is not anticipating any GO or UP service disruptions on any of their lines, reports City News.
Via Rail staff are telling affected customers at Union Station to take Greyhound, Megabus or GO. Some are also hand… https://t.co/tjCQxkhNk9— Alvin Yu (@Alvin Yu)1581632119.0
Part of the GO tracks along the Lakeshore West, Barrie, and Kitchener lines are owned by CN. However, Metrolinx has agreements in place to operate along those corridors.
Metrolinx's senior manager of media, Anne-Marie Aikins, tweeted to confirm this, writing: "To both GO Transit and UP Express customers who may be concerned about the news about the CN stoppage: It is currently business as usual for your trains on all 7 lines. We are monitoring the situation very closely with our rail partners & will keep you updated."*
Pictures and videos taken from Toronto's Union Station and Ottawa's Tremblay Station illustrate the situation customers are facing right now.
According to a photo from CBC's Alvin Yu, Via Rail staff are telling affected would-be travellers at Union to instead take Greyhound, Megabus, or GO Transit.
Leaflets are also being handed out listing destinations that these services stop at.
Entirely empty @VIA_Rail station at Tremblay in Ottawa - the mood here is tense among staff, train is not moving, t… https://t.co/dkW5GKraks— Christina Succi (@Christina Succi)1581632621.0
In the Via Rail concourse, departure screens show across-the-board cancellations.
Meanwhile, in Ottawa, CTV News' Christina Succi posted video footage of an "entirely empty" Tremblay station in Ottawa.
Succi reports that it's a very tense situation, with no travellers in sight, and that the silence is eerie.
And it's not just travellers and commuters who are being affected.
"The railway operator said the shutdown, which will affect the entire network east of Toronto, may result in temporary layoffs of CN workers," per CBC.
This article may be updated as more information becomes available.
*This article has been updated.