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VIA rail Canada


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#1 busboy

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 09:08 AM

I'm considering taking the Vancouver - Toronto or Toronto - Vancouver Via Rail.
Has anybody ridden this train? What's it like? I see you can get a cabin or an upper or lower berth. I assume the berths are just along the sides in a big long car?

#2 rrdude

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 09:32 AM

I'm considering taking the Vancouver - Toronto or Toronto - Vancouver Via Rail.
Has anybody ridden this train? What's it like? I see you can get a cabin or an upper or lower berth. I assume the berths are just along the sides in a big long car?

My advice? Don't consider, in the words of Nike, "Just Do It'.

Be warned though, you may well be spoiled, and look at Amtrak in a totally different light. As long as you understand the different roles that each transportation provider (Via Rail and Amtrak) have been charged with, you can usually "live with" the differences.

However, I think Amtrak could learn one VERY IMPORTANT lesson from Via Rail. Employee Attitude and Guest Interaction. Via Rail reminds me of how the staff at Disneyland/world treat guests, or how staff at a four-star hotel treat guests. While once in a while you will meet an Amtrak employee who goes "above and beyond", IMHO, the majority of the staff are "just there to do their job". And hey, that's OK, to a degree.

I should stop ranting, this is a post about Via Rail, not Amtrak employees........

Take the trip, enjoy the scenery, refurbished Heritage-style cars, domes, and wonderful food. You have a TON of sleeping accommodations to choose from, some include meals, most don't. Take Via Rail while you can, the current equipment won't be around forever.




#3 JoanieBlon

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 10:04 AM

My husband and I are taking Via Rail across Canada in May ~ from Montreal to Vancouver, with a stop in Jasper for a couple of days. We are REALLY looking forward to our adventure! :D :wub:

Check out a thread about traveling on Via Rail HERE.

Original California Zephyr (1955) Sacramento-Chicago-Sacramento ~ 4706 Miles; Lakeshore Limited (1988) Springfield MA-Chicago-Springfield MA ~ 1722 Miles; California Zephyr (2009) Chicago-Emeryville (San Francisco) ~ 2438 Miles; Empire Builder (2009) Chicago-Seattle ~ 2205 Miles; Maple Leaf (2010) New York City-Niagara Falls Canada ~ 462 Miles; Trenitalia (Italy) (2010) Venice-Florence-Pompeii-Rome ~ 670 Miles; (2011) Montreal-Toronto-Jasper-Vancouver on Via Rail ~ 3104 Miles; Sunset Limited (2011) New Orleans-Los Angeles ~ 1995 Miles; Coast Starlight (2011) Los Angeles-Portland ~ 1190 Miles; Amtrak Cascades (2011) Portland-Seattle ~ 187 Miles; City of New Orleans (2013) New Orleans-Chicago ~ 934 Miles; Southwest Chief (2013) Chicago-Los Angeles ~ 2265 Miles; Pacific Surfliner (2013) Los Angeles-San Diego (Old Town) ~ 125 Miles; Sunset Limited (2017) Lafayette LA-New Orleans ~ 145 Miles; Crescent (2017) New Orleans-New York City ~ 1377 Miles; Northeast Corridor (2017) New York City-New Haven ~ 70 Miles

23,782 Rail Miles to Date & MORE to Come!

"SPECIAL" Rail Adventures!
The Ffestiniog Narrow-Gauge Railway Porthmadog, Wales, United Kingdom (2007); The Strasburg Railroad Strasburg (Lancaster County) PA (2008); Pike's Peak Cog Railway ~ Colorado Springs (2015) http://www.cograilway.com/  


#4 jis

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 10:20 AM

I'm considering taking the Vancouver - Toronto or Toronto - Vancouver Via Rail.
Has anybody ridden this train? What's it like? I see you can get a cabin or an upper or lower berth. I assume the berths are just along the sides in a big long car?

I have taken that ride several times. You can't get enough of it.... highly recommended. I always did it in single room, and I would recommend that over open section berth if it is within budget. But if not, go for it with section berth.

Each car has 6 or 8 section berths in 3 or 4 alcoves at one end. The bedrooms are in the middle of the car, and the single and double rooms are at the other end of the car. The rear Obs/Dome (the Park Car) has a couple of bedrooms too. There is a Diner and a Skyline Dome per 4 or 5 sleeping cars.

#5 buckhouse2006

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 10:23 AM

I did that trip about 8 to 9 years ago. Loved it. Had a Canadian Rail Pass. Went coach, at that time meals were not included with the sleepers, now they do.


The best trip that I ever had. Long one, Vancouver to Toronto. Was in Toronto a day and a half, then went back to Vancouver.

#6 Guest_NS VIA Fan_*

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 10:31 AM

Has anybody ridden this train? What's it like? I see you can get a cabin or an upper or lower berth. I assume the berths are just along the sides in a big long car?

There are three open sections (or lower & upper berths) per car. These are the old style "Pullman" type accommodations you see in movies. At night a heavy curtain separates you from the aisle. The rest of the car is made up of private rooms. See 360 deg. photos here:

http://www.viarail.c...eper/index.html

And here is a link to the Canadian on VIA's home page:

http://www.viarail.c...couver-canadian

#7 gregoryla

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 11:05 AM

Oh that is a trip I have wanted to take for so long!

Does anyone have any thoughts on whether it is better to go Vancouver to Toronto or Toronto to Vancouver? Does one way or the other give more daylight time in the Rockies?

#8 Eric S

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 11:18 AM

I have taken that ride several times. You can't get enough of it.... highly recommended. I always did it in single room, and I would recommend that over open section berth if it is within budget. But if not, go for it with section berth.

Any thoughts/comments on what travel is like in the open section berths? Especially over a 4ish day period, if traveling the entire Canadian route?

#9 WhoozOn1st

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 11:20 AM

It's here until a moderator or admin sees it, but once again: Canuck VIA discussion belongs in Miscellaneous Rail, not Amtrak.

WhoozOn1st
 


#10 Guest_LA Resident_*

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 12:46 PM

I'm considering taking the Vancouver - Toronto or Toronto - Vancouver Via Rail.
Has anybody ridden this train? What's it like? I see you can get a cabin or an upper or lower berth. I assume the berths are just along the sides in a big long car?

Just did the Vancouver-Toronto trip two weeks ago. Best train ride ever! Every member of the staff went out of his or her way to be helpful. Not most of them, ALL of them (and the crews change in Winnepeg because of the length of the trip). The Park Car (dome car) attendant conducted "Railroad 101" talks each morning in the dome for interested passengers, was always around to make sure coffee, tea, cookies, etc. were available, offered to take photos of passengers as beautiful scenery passed in the background. I had a double bedroom as Via Rail website has a VIA Express deals section where I landed the double for $798, a fraction of the $1800 charge. It's much better laid out than the Superliner bedroom, though the showers are communal (one for each car). But the enclosed toilet always worked for the 4 days and the sink actually allows you to lean over the basin and has angled mirrors. The beds are FAR more comfortable than those on Amtrak, come with nice down comforters and are changed two days into the four-night trip.
But the highlight was the meal service! Truly gourmet meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, with silverware and china. Everything prepared to order and special requests are no problem. If you want oatmeal along with your banana-pecan pancakes, for example, that's fine. One woman could not finish her steak at dinner one night and the crew suggested they save the portion and serve it to her as steak and eggs the next morning! One dinner menu featured pecan-crusted fresh halibut, prime rib, or chicken stuffed with spinach and artichoke. A typical lunch included a salmon and asparagus frittata, a turkey and bacon wrap or Angus burger. Every one of the 10 menus is different. One night, the two waiters--both accomplished folk guitar players--played for each sitting after the main meals had been served.
As to accommodations, I would suggest a single cabin unless you can get a Via Express deal. They looked fine for one person as you end up spending most of your sightseeing time in the Park car. (There's also a second dome, the Skyline car, for both sleeping and coach passengers.) The beds for the berths are actually wider than those in the private cabins and have heavy curtains but the downside is that you simply have a coach-style seat during the day with no privacy. The two people I had meals with who were in the berths found them fine nevertheless, and one went the entire distance.
The Vancouver=Toronto routing guarantees more daylight for the Rocky Mountains, as you wake up early in Kamloops and then spend the entire day winding through the Rockies until you get to Jasper about 3 p.m. The train actually slows down and the Park car attendant opens the vestibule for passengers to take pictures of a waterfall cascading next to the tracks. Even the scenery in Canada's Big Sky country is beguiling. On the final night, most of the sleeping car passengers gathered for an impromptu party in the Park car; you really make friends on a trip of this length where every aspect of the train is geared toward ensuring a terrific experience.

Did I mention that I enjoyed it immensely? :)

#11 JoanieBlon

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 01:48 PM

Wow!! THANKS Guest_LA Resident_* for the review! Now I'm REALLY excited about our upcoming trip from Montreal to Vancouver on Via Rail! :wub: :cool:

Edited by JoanieBlon, 13 April 2011 - 01:53 PM.

Original California Zephyr (1955) Sacramento-Chicago-Sacramento ~ 4706 Miles; Lakeshore Limited (1988) Springfield MA-Chicago-Springfield MA ~ 1722 Miles; California Zephyr (2009) Chicago-Emeryville (San Francisco) ~ 2438 Miles; Empire Builder (2009) Chicago-Seattle ~ 2205 Miles; Maple Leaf (2010) New York City-Niagara Falls Canada ~ 462 Miles; Trenitalia (Italy) (2010) Venice-Florence-Pompeii-Rome ~ 670 Miles; (2011) Montreal-Toronto-Jasper-Vancouver on Via Rail ~ 3104 Miles; Sunset Limited (2011) New Orleans-Los Angeles ~ 1995 Miles; Coast Starlight (2011) Los Angeles-Portland ~ 1190 Miles; Amtrak Cascades (2011) Portland-Seattle ~ 187 Miles; City of New Orleans (2013) New Orleans-Chicago ~ 934 Miles; Southwest Chief (2013) Chicago-Los Angeles ~ 2265 Miles; Pacific Surfliner (2013) Los Angeles-San Diego (Old Town) ~ 125 Miles; Sunset Limited (2017) Lafayette LA-New Orleans ~ 145 Miles; Crescent (2017) New Orleans-New York City ~ 1377 Miles; Northeast Corridor (2017) New York City-New Haven ~ 70 Miles

23,782 Rail Miles to Date & MORE to Come!

"SPECIAL" Rail Adventures!
The Ffestiniog Narrow-Gauge Railway Porthmadog, Wales, United Kingdom (2007); The Strasburg Railroad Strasburg (Lancaster County) PA (2008); Pike's Peak Cog Railway ~ Colorado Springs (2015) http://www.cograilway.com/  


#12 jis

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 02:14 PM

The Vancouver=Toronto routing guarantees more daylight for the Rocky Mountains, as you wake up early in Kamloops and then spend the entire day winding through the Rockies until you get to Jasper about 3 p.m. The train actually slows down and the Park car attendant opens the vestibule for passengers to take pictures of a waterfall cascading next to the tracks. Even the scenery in Canada's Big Sky country is beguiling. On the final night, most of the sleeping car passengers gathered for an impromptu party in the Park car; you really make friends on a trip of this length where every aspect of the train is geared toward ensuring a terrific experience.

Did I mention that I enjoyed it immensely? :)

I have not traveled on the Canadian since they changed to the 4 day schedule. My last trip on it was on the last run on the 3 day schedule eastwards in the middle of winter. So naturally there was not much daylight. But that brought out this other aspect which I enjoyed immensely. At night get up in the first Skyline Dome and watch the scenery covered by the headlight of the engine as it curves around the side of the canyons! And the sky had a thousand stars and the Milky Way visible. It was absolutely enchanting!

#13 busboy

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 07:57 PM

Wow, it sounds wonderful!! I'm going to start making plans now! I'm taking the Amtrak Empire Builder and California Zepher this year, VIA rail will have to wait till next spring. Thanks for all the great info!

#14 Rail Freak

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 08:24 PM

DITTO
Thanx
RF

A Rookie No More! But Still A Lot Of Track To Travel !!!
Silver Meteor #97(6) & #98 (4), Silver Star #91 (2), Capitol Limited #29 & #30(6), Empire Builder #7,#8,#27(2) &#28(4) Coast Starlight #11 (6) & #14(5), California Zephyr #5 (2) & #6 (5), Cascades #506, City of New Orleans #58, #59 (2), South West Chief #3 (4), Lake Shore Limited #49, Maple Leaf #63, San Joaquin #714, Pacific Surfliner #774, Texas Eagle #422 (2), Cardinal #50, Crescent #19, Sunset Limited #1. Approx. 60,169 miles & 41 states!

 


#15 busboy

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Posted 15 April 2011 - 11:45 AM

VIA is offering a sale, it was enough to push me over the edge. My trip from Vancouver to Toronto is booked for 28 August!! I can't wait!!

With the sale, I got a sleeper for the same price as a normal coach ticket. Sale fares must be booked by the 19th.

#16 jis

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Posted 16 April 2011 - 01:03 PM

I decided to head eastwards out of Montreal this year. I am all set for my trip to Halifax from Montreal and a little visit to the Bay of Fundy over the Labor Day weekend. The VIA part by Touring Class of course, with access to the Park Car and free meals in the Diner.

#17 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 16 April 2011 - 06:58 PM

I decided to head eastwards out of Montreal this year. I am all set for my trip to Halifax from Montreal and a little visit to the Bay of Fundy over the Labor Day weekend. The VIA part by Touring Class of course, with access to the Park Car and free meals in the Diner.


Please don't do that, Jishnu. Its a "complimentary" meal. It isn't free if you paid for it.
Travelled: Broadway Limited (1), Lake Shore Limited (6), Capitol Limited (7), Empire Builder (1), Southwest Chief (2), Sunset Limited (1), California Zephyr (3), Coast Starlight (2), Silver Meteor (5), Silver Star (5), Silver Palm (2), Crescent (1), Cardinal (4), Auto Train (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Palmetto (1), Acela Express (1), Empire Service (1), Northeast Regional (11), Keystone Service (1) --- Total Miles: 50,144 --- Total Trains: 61
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#18 NorthCoastHiawatha

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 09:27 PM

I just got back from my second journey on the Canadian a few a weeks ago. I opted for the upper berth this time (had a double bedroom as I was traveling with sometime the first time) I really enjoyed the upper berth, i found it more comfortable than anything Amtrak offers.

Edited by NorthCoastHiawatha, 18 April 2011 - 01:17 AM.

Amtrak trains ridden: Adirondack (2) Cascades (35), California Zephyr (1) Capitol Limited (1), Coast Starlight (11), Downeaster (2) Empire Builder (6), Lake Shore Limited (2), Maple Leaf (1) Mount Rainer (1), NorthEast Regional (2) Pacific Surfliner (1), Silver Star (1), Southwest Chief (1) Sunset Limited (1)
Total Mileage: 29,177

Specials with Amtrak equipment: Seattle-Ellensburg, Seattle-Tacoma,Seattle-Leavenworth
Total Mileage: 587
VIA Rail Canadian (2) Malahat (2)
Total Mileage: 5,830
Mainline Steam Excursion: Southern Pacific 4449 (Portland-Pasco-Yakima-Auburn-Tacoma-Portland)

                                        Milwaukee Road 261   (Minneapolis - Duluth - Minneapolis)
Total Mileage: 854


#19 Eric S

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 12:23 AM

I just got back from my second journey on the Canadian a few a weeks ago. I opted for the upper berth this time (had a double bedroom as I was traveling with sometime the first time. I really enjoyed the upper berth, i found it more comfortable than anything Amtrak offers.

So this time you were traveling alone, right?

Any other thoughts/comments about traveling in one of the berths? Any issues with where you leave your "stuff" when you are elsewhere in the train (whether in the dining car, lounge car, or whatnot)? Just curious as a trip on the Canadian is definitely on my to-do list, and traveling in a berth rather than a cabin might just make it happen sooner for me.

#20 NorthCoastHiawatha

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 01:22 AM


I just got back from my second journey on the Canadian a few a weeks ago. I opted for the upper berth this time (had a double bedroom as I was traveling with sometime the first time. I really enjoyed the upper berth, i found it more comfortable than anything Amtrak offers.

So this time you were traveling alone, right?

Any other thoughts/comments about traveling in one of the berths? Any issues with where you leave your "stuff" when you are elsewhere in the train (whether in the dining car, lounge car, or whatnot)? Just curious as a trip on the Canadian is definitely on my to-do list, and traveling in a berth rather than a cabin might just make it happen sooner for me.

Yes I was traveling alone on this trip. I had no issues with my stuff, I just left it on my seat. At night they will put what ever you don't need under the seats when they fold them into the bed. They tell (at least my attendant did) to put what you don't need at night on the floor between the seats and leave what you do need on the seats.
However I should note that no one had booked the lower berth during my trip, so the first night I was in the upper and the second I was in the lower. At Winnipeg the crew changes so I was put in the upper by the attendant the first night and the lower for the last night on the train. If travel in the peak season, which I guess is roughly now until winter, there will probably be someone else in the lower, I don't think you have any issues though.

Edited by NorthCoastHiawatha, 18 April 2011 - 01:23 AM.

Amtrak trains ridden: Adirondack (2) Cascades (35), California Zephyr (1) Capitol Limited (1), Coast Starlight (11), Downeaster (2) Empire Builder (6), Lake Shore Limited (2), Maple Leaf (1) Mount Rainer (1), NorthEast Regional (2) Pacific Surfliner (1), Silver Star (1), Southwest Chief (1) Sunset Limited (1)
Total Mileage: 29,177

Specials with Amtrak equipment: Seattle-Ellensburg, Seattle-Tacoma,Seattle-Leavenworth
Total Mileage: 587
VIA Rail Canadian (2) Malahat (2)
Total Mileage: 5,830
Mainline Steam Excursion: Southern Pacific 4449 (Portland-Pasco-Yakima-Auburn-Tacoma-Portland)

                                        Milwaukee Road 261   (Minneapolis - Duluth - Minneapolis)
Total Mileage: 854





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