VIA Rail announces new early morning service including stops in Smiths Falls, Brockville, Belleville

VIA 643 from Ottawa-Toronto rounding the bend at Montreal Street in Kingston. Photo by Logan Cadue/Kingstonist.

After years with reduced passenger train services through Kingston, VIA Rail has announced few new services on the Ottawa-Kingston-Toronto corridor – including the return of morning commuter train service to Toronto.

The company said it is “pleased to announce the enhancement of services between Ottawa and Toronto with the introduction of several new departures,” in a press release on Monday, Apr. 29, 2024. Referring to it as “an eagerly awaited early departure” VIA Rail outlined that the new 641 “early morning frequency” will run between Ottawa and Toronto from Monday to Thursday week. This service will begin on Monday, May 27, 2024, and the 641 train will depart Ottawa at 4:19 a.m. for arrival in Toronto at 8:48 a.m., with stops in Smiths Falls, Brockville, Kingston, Belleville and more.

“In recent months, stakeholders and frequent passengers from Eastern Ontario have emphasized the significance of early-morning VIA Rail services for their communities, and we took great care to listen and act on this feedback,” said Mario Péloquin, President and Chief Executive Officer of VIA Rail, in a statement.

“This is why we are looking forward to offering this option for passengers who wish to travel to Toronto before 9 a.m., whether for business or leisure. We hope, and are confident, that they will answer the call and help us make this new frequency a success.”

VIA Rail ceased its early morning commuter service along the eastern Ontario corridor during the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon its return, the company will be “closely monitoring the public response” and “will implement adjustments as necessary, based on ridership and actual use” over the coming months.

In addition to the early-morning service, VIA also announced another service it referred to as offering “more midday flexibility.”

Graphic screen captured from a VIA Rail press release.

Train 644, which previously operated from Friday to Sunday, will now run every day. This will also begin on Monday, May 27, 2024, to “offer passengers more midday travel options and therefore greater flexibility.”

According to VIA Rail, passengers can begin booking trips on these new departures “as soon as” today, Monday, Apr. 29, 2024.

Mark Gerretsen, Member of Parliament (MP) for Kingston and the Islands, also announced the coming changes on social media, celebrating the return of the early-morning service.

“Happy to share the news that VIA Train 641 will be offering early morning service from Kingston to Toronto again, effective May 27th,” the MP said in a post on Facebook.

Gerretsen also thanked “local advocates” including the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce, the City of Kingston, Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Kingston, Queen’s University, St. Lawrence College (SLC), the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC), the Downtown Kingston Business Improvement Area (BIA), and Tourism Kingston.

“I have been proud to amplify your voices through my work in Ottawa,” Gerretsen continued.

“Together, we’ve helped to bring this early morning train back on track!”

More information and booking for these (and other) VIA Rail train services can be found on the VIA Rail website.

“VIA Rail remains committed to always finding the balance between meeting our passengers’ travel needs and deploying our limited equipment and staff to provide service to the highest number of Canadians.”

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