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Via Rail announces new CEO after Harper cabinet minister calls for a shakeup

The Via Rail station is seen in Halifax on June 13, 2013. Via Rail has named a new chief executive officer little more than a week after a senior federal cabinet minister called for new leadership at the Crown corporation. Yves Desjardins-Siciliano is taking over from Steve Del Bosco, who had been doing the job on an interim basis since the start of this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

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The Via Rail station is seen in Halifax on June 13, 2013. Via Rail has named a new chief executive officer little more than a week after a senior federal cabinet minister called for new leadership at the Crown corporation. Yves Desjardins-Siciliano is taking over from Steve Del Bosco, who had been doing the job on an interim basis since the start of this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

MONTREAL - Via Rail has named a new chief executive officer a little more than a week after a senior federal cabinet minister called for new leadership at the Crown corporation.

Yves Desjardins-Siciliano is taking over from Steve Del Bosco, who had been doing the job on an interim basis since the start of this year.

Desjardins-Siciliano had been serving as Via's chief corporate and legal officer and corporate secretary since 2010.

A statement from Via says he has held executive positions in a variety of industries in Toronto and Montreal.

The appointment comes after Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird publicly demanded Del Bosco's head.

Baird said he lost confidence in Del Bosco because of how Via has been communicating with the public over issues like technical problems with safety equipment at rail crossings.

Baird, whose riding is in the national capital region, said the last straw came last month when Via wrongly accused Ottawa transit buses of causing a signal malfunction at a crossing near his home.

Baird's said the minister "welcomes" the change in leadership at Via and hopes it means the Crown Corporation will address technical troubles at railway crossings in the Ottawa-area.

"The new CEO's first order of business must be to fix the technical issues," a statement from Baird's office said.

"Open communication with those residents and city officials on VIA's actions is equally paramount," the statement said.

"Via must rebuild its trust among the community," it added.

Del Bosco will be resuming his previous role as Via's chief commercial planning officer, the statement said.

Desjardins-Siciliano called it an "honour" to get the job.

"The task ahead is to ensure that inter-city passenger rail continues to play a key role in the economic prosperity of Canada," Desjardins-Siciliano said.

Via said last November that its overall ridership slipped two per cent to one million passengers in the third quarter of 2013, compared with the same period a year earlier.

However, it said ridership in the vital Quebec City-Windsor, Ont., corridor rose six per cent to 912,000.

Via operates intercity, regional and transcontinental trains linking 450 communities across its 12,500-kilometre route network, carrying almost four million passengers annually.

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