VIA Rail Puts the Brakes on Runaway Operations

Article

Bemowski, Karen   (1996, ASQC)   American Society for Quality Control, Milwaukee, WI

Quality Progress    Vol. 29    No. 10
QICID: 13118    October 1996    pp. 37-42
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Article Abstract

The empowered employees (known as colleagues) of VIA Rail Canada Inc. have reduced costs and improved customer service since Terry Ivany became president and chief executive officer. From 1992 to 1995 VIA has reduced its federal payments for train operation by 33%, while its 1995 customer satisfaction rate was 95%. An interview with Ivany, the chair of Canada Quality Month 1996, underscored strategic and action planning and the previously hidden strengths of hard working colleagues, reliable trains, and high-quality service. Colleagues make sure that improvements do add customer value. For example, they have reduced overhaul time from 27 to 30 days and have improved maintenance scheduling. Colleagues receive on-going training that covers both customization services as well as basic service skills. Customer service goals include turning customers into fans of VIA's passenger service, while the company mission is to be the best passenger service of any kind in Canada. The mission is supported by matching colleagues to activities, which has required a 29% reduction in an overbureaucratic work force. Today's 3,100 colleagues use action plans focused on five goal areas: customer service, finances, growth, safety, and people. Their measurement techniques are statistical process control, where appropriate, and checklist and matrix techniques for less quantitative situations.

Keywords

Action plans,Cost management,Customer service,Employees,Empowerment,Strategic planning


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