VIA Rail Announces On-board Entertainment
Gail Chiasson, North American Editor
When it was announced Monday night that VIA Rail Canada has partnered with CBC/Radio-Canada, the National Film Board of Canada and The Historica-Dominion Institute to announce the On-board Entertainment initiative – an interactive digital platform providing passengers on VIA Rail trains free access to Canadian programming – we wondered whether it involved putting screens at seats similar to those in airplanes.
Such is not the case. However, starting in Spring 2013, the new interactive digital platform will provide passengers on VIA Rail trains within the Québec City – Windsor corridor free access to Canadian programming, including CBC/Radio-Canada TV shows programs, documentaries and animation from the NFB, and Heritage Minutes vignettes and Memory Project veteran interviews produced by The Historica-Dominion Institute.
Travelers will access the programming via their own computers, iPads, tablets or other mobile devices, by simply plugging in as they do to get WiFi.
VIA Rail’s On-Board Entertainment is the only system of its kind on a train in North America. although similar systems are in several European countries.
“Over the past two years, VIA Rail passengers have become accustomed to world-class Wi-Fi on our trains,” says Marc Laliberté, VIA Rail president and CEO. “Today, we are pleased to extend our Wi-Fi offer with entertainment and information produced by Canadians, for Canadians.
“Canadian culture is known for its rich diversity demonstrated by the artistic creativity of its people. Canadians can be proud of the many artisans, authors, actors and producers who create distinctive, original and innovative audiovisual works that honour them on the international stage. VIA Rail Canada is happy to promote them to its passengers.”
It will present movies and other programming from the NFB and CBC/Radio-Canada collections, in addition to regular daily newscasts from CBC/Radio-Canada. Over time, this interactive digital platform will host other Canadian content from participating organizations.
Hubert Lacroix, CBC/Radio-Canada president and CEO, says, “This partnership with VIA Rail is yet another way for us to reach Canadians when, where and how they want. Not only does it attest to the high quality and rich variety of our programming, but it’s a superb opportunity for the public broadcaster to bring its news and general programming to a wider audience in both English and French.”
The On-board Entertainment initiative required a total investment of $543,000 by VIA Rail. This program is part of VIA Rail’s modernization plan launched in 2007, and was made possible by the nearly $1 billion in capital funding announced by the Government of Canada since 2007 to rebuild aging equipment, refurbish stations, upgrade infrastructure, improve accessibility and support critical information technology projects. This investment includes $407 million under the Economic Action Plan and $60 million in Budget 2012.