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Advice Requested: Booking Train #2 from Vancouver to Toronto in Feb


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#1 Dakota 400

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 08:03 PM

On this web site, I have learned that booking Sleeper Plus is a more affordable option and just as pleasant and offers most of the same amenities than Prestige Class on The Canadian in the off-season.  Registering for the VIA Guest Rewards Program is a good idea.  Making a phone reservation for the trip and requesting a Roomette in the last Manor Car is a good idea.  Expecting to arrive in Toronto late is almost a given.

 

The date of departure is still of some concern for me.  But, I am sure that I will see Winter-type weather as The Canadian goes to Toronto.  One of my most memorable Amtrak trips was on the Empire Builder in February from Seattle to Chicago.  The winter scenes are indelible in my memory!  May I expect such on The Canadian at this time of the year?

 

Opinions, information:  all are welcome before I call VIA Rail.

 

Many thanks.  



#2 Bob Dylan

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 11:36 PM

If you're riding #2 in Feb. you're guaranteed to see Snow covered Mountains, Snowy Vistas across the Prairies, and have Very Low Temps ( Below Zero though Canada uses the Celsius Scale)when you step off the Warm Train for some Cold,Refreshing Air at the Stops.😍
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Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

#3 jebr

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 04:41 PM

If you're traveling alone and don't mind the bit of reduced privacy (curtain at night, open in daytime) a lower berth is a great value. Comfortable bed, all the Sleeper Plus amenities, still get a window at night and forward facing seat during the day, and cheaper than a sleeper for 1 in my experience makes it a win in my book.


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#4 Bob Dylan

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 04:47 PM

If you're traveling alone and don't mind the bit of reduced privacy (curtain at night, open in daytime) a lower berth is a great value. Comfortable bed, all the Sleeper Plus amenities, still get a window at night and forward facing seat during the day, and cheaper than a sleeper for 1 in my experience makes it a win in my book.

Ditto! The most comfortable bed I've ever slept in on a Train in my 70+ years of riding the rails.
"There's Something About a Train! It's Magic!"-- 1970s Amtrak Ad
 "..My heart is warm with the friends I make,and better friends I'll not be knowing,
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

#5 Dakota 400

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 06:20 PM

If you're traveling alone and don't mind the bit of reduced privacy (curtain at night, open in daytime) a lower berth is a great value. Comfortable bed, all the Sleeper Plus amenities, still get a window at night and forward facing seat during the day, and cheaper than a sleeper for 1 in my experience makes it a win in my book.

 

I appreciate your view.  Thank you.  But, what does one do with carry-on luggage with such an accommodation?  If another traveler is sharing the accommodation and is in the upper berth, how do I know that I will have a forward facing seat during the day?



#6 Bob Dylan

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 07:45 PM


If you're traveling alone and don't mind the bit of reduced privacy (curtain at night, open in daytime) a lower berth is a great value. Comfortable bed, all the Sleeper Plus amenities, still get a window at night and forward facing seat during the day, and cheaper than a sleeper for 1 in my experience makes it a win in my book.

 
I appreciate your view.  Thank you.  But, what does one do with carry-on luggage with such an accommodation?  If another traveler is sharing the accommodation and is in the upper berth, how do I know that I will have a forward facing seat during the day?
VIAs policy is that the Bottom Bunk passenger has the forward facing seat when the Section is in "day mode", and the Upper has the rear facing seat.

You'll want to spend most of your time, when not in the Diner, in the Park Car and Dome Cars anyway!😉

VIA is very strict with Luggage on the Canadian, all regular bags must be checked into the bag car and small carryons can be carried aboard to the Sections. ( Ichecked my rollerbag/carried on a Day pack and a small awol bag with underwear/Shirts/Socks/Night gear/Shave Kit)and Layered up on Clothing.

Your car attendants ( there are two crews on the Canadian/ one Vancouver to Winnipeg/another Winnipeg to Toronto)will do a good job helping you store your stuff and taking car of your Section.

Edited by Bob Dylan, 24 August 2017 - 07:48 PM.

"There's Something About a Train! It's Magic!"-- 1970s Amtrak Ad
 "..My heart is warm with the friends I make,and better friends I'll not be knowing,
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

#7 Dakota 400

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 03:21 PM

Bob Dylan.

 

Thanks for your reply.  A question:  what is an "awol bag"?  I'm not surprised that VIA is strict about luggage, particularly for the Sections.



#8 Bob Dylan

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 05:02 PM

Bob Dylan.
 
Thanks for your reply.  A question:  what is an "awol bag"?  I'm not surprised that VIA is strict about luggage, particularly for the Sections.

An "AWOL Bag" is what the Military calls a small, carry-on bag in which you can stash your essentials. ( shave kit, underwear,change of clothes,may be snacks/ Civilians usually use Backpacks which are actually better for this purpose).
"There's Something About a Train! It's Magic!"-- 1970s Amtrak Ad
 "..My heart is warm with the friends I make,and better friends I'll not be knowing,
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

#9 Palmetto

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 11:09 AM

I wound up putting an airline-size carry-on under the bed, and a small hand bag down at my foot of the bed,  in the corner.  I agree with the opinions on the bed's great comfortableness.  I spent most of the time in the Skyline Car [dome and downstairs] as well as the dining car during daytime.  When I returned after dark, the bed was done up.  It's a bit of a contorted routine trying to get pants on and off, though!  There's practically no space between the edge of the bed and the curtain.



#10 Bob Dylan

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 01:31 PM

Great place to change clothes is in the Shower which is between the Sections and the Rooms. I took Sweat Pants and a Long Sleeve T-Shirt to wear at night ( all my trips on the Canadian have been in the Winter)
"There's Something About a Train! It's Magic!"-- 1970s Amtrak Ad
 "..My heart is warm with the friends I make,and better friends I'll not be knowing,
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

#11 Paul CHI

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Posted 21 August 2018 - 10:01 AM

Is the Park Car still available to all sleeper passengers?



#12 cpotisch

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Posted 21 August 2018 - 10:08 AM

Is the Park Car still available to all sleeper passengers?

Yes, though during peak season, it's usually restricted to Prestige passengers at certain times of day.


Routes Traveled: Silver Meteor, Silver Star, CrescentLake Shore LimitedCalifornia Zephyr, Sunset Limited, Texas EagleEthan Allen Express, Empire Service, Maple Leaf, AdirondackAcela Express, Northeast RegionalKeystone Service, Downeaster w/ Great Dome
 
Wish List: Auto Train, Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome


#13 railiner

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Posted 21 August 2018 - 12:43 PM

  There's practically no space between the edge of the bed and the curtain.

That's one of the reasons that section bed is so comfortable...its size 'maxes out' the available space...you basically get in and out of your bed in the aisle, rather than within your room.


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metroblue?

okay on the blue!

#14 zephyr17

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Posted 21 August 2018 - 02:06 PM

I've ridden the Canadian once a year for the last 5 years and am pretty familiar with it.  I vastly prefer the off season to the 26 car monster it is in the summer.

 

1.  Whether or not you get a roomette, aka "Cabin for 1" (which I prefer, I like the door), or a berth, minimize the amount of carry on luggage you bring.  The amount of luggage storage in either is minimal.  There is no common luggage rack like on a Superliner or a big cubby like on a Viewliner.  There is a small cubby in the roomette.  I carry a small duffel (which is usually in service as my gym bag) and a backpack and check my big bag.  I almost never check the big bag on Amtrak BTW.  One thing to bear in mind is that there is an outlet in the roomette, but there are no outlets in the section.

 

2.  In the off season, there is no restriction to access to the Park car.  However, note that the first 2 or 3 rows in the dome will be marked as reserved for Prestige.  I almost always respect that, although at night when I like riding in the "railfan seat" and watch the signal aspects change, I will park myself in that seat at night, but there also is almost always no one else up there then.

 

3.  There will certainly be snow in the mountains, probably elsewhere.  It will also be COLD.  Prepare for sub-zero (Fahrenheit) temps if you want to detrain at station stops, particularly in the prairies.  And it is often windy in the prairies, too.

 

4. Since the recent schedule change, adding 13 hours eastbound, the performance has been much better into Toronto.  I have been following it, since I was deciding whether or not to allow a 3 day pad in Toronto to allow for a 48 hour late train, which has not been uncommon over the last year.  In many cases, the train has been as much as 7+ hours late at some point in its journey, and still arrived into Toronto around noon, 2 hours early.  It has been arriving around noon more often than not, and I have yet to see one that is actually late since the new schedule went into effect.  With that said, allow for an overnight layover in Toronto before onward travel.

 

5. They pretty much do not run non-Prestige Chateaus in the off-season.  212 is the last Manor in the minimum consist.  Note that they may add cars based on demand and they may add cars after you reserve (that has happened to me), so you may want to check back.  Also, when you make your reservation, the way their system works is you will automatically be assigned a room, and they can then change it after its been assigned.  You can do it all on one call, though.

 

Do sign up for Via Preference before you book, as one trip between Vancouver and Toronto in a private accommodation will be enough to up to the "Privilege" elite level (CAD $999 spend).  That will entitle you to a 50% off coupon (off the full undiscounted summer fare, but still good) that you can use on any train that has "discount" inventory available.  It is a deeper discount than even off-season discount.

 

Finally, get your plans finalized and reserved soon.  For some reason, the "discount" inventory is selling out much earlier and more completely than it has in the past.  I got hit by this on my upcoming trip in November.  I waited to make my reservation until last week because I wanted to track the performance of the train on the new schedule to determine if I wanted to keep a 3 day buffer in Toronto.  When I decided (I didn't and am only laying over overnight), there was no discount inventory available on my preferred trip and would have had to spend CAD $2700, whereas the same trip would only have been about CAD $1450 had I been able to use my 50% off coupon.  I checked all departures from mid-October when the Park Car restriction comes off through the end of the year, and there were NO departures with discount inventory in a Cabin for 1.  I ended up pushing my trip by a week, since the next week the undiscounted fares went from "shoulder" season (CAD $2700) to "off season" (CAD $1800).  I had thought the end of the trip was set, I just didn't know whether I'd depart on the Friday or the Tuesday train because I was debating the length of the Toronto layover, so I had already booked return flights.  Luckily, they were on frequent flyer miles and I was able to move my return flights back a week without penalty.


Edited by zephyr17, 21 August 2018 - 02:09 PM.

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Pre Amtrak: SP Coast Daylight, AT&SF San Diegan, AT&SF Super Chief, D&RGW Rio Grande Zephyr; Amtrak: Southwest Limited/Chief, San Diegan/Pacific Surfliner, San Joaquin, Cascades, California/San Francisco Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, Sunset Limited (LA-ORL), Desert Wind, Pioneer, City of New Orleans, Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Lake Shore Limited (NY Section), Cardinal, Hoosier State (Amtrak),  Hoosier State (Iowa Pacific), Ann Rutledge, Adirondack, Maple Leaf, NE Regional, Capitol Limited, Crescent, Acela Express, Lake Shore Limited (Boston Section)
Via Rail Canada: Via Canadian (CP route), Via Super Continental, Via Atlantic Limited, Via Hudson Bay, Via Skeena, Via Canadian (CN route), Via "Corridor" (Toronto-Montreal); 
Other: BC Rail Cariboo Dayliner, Alaska Railroad, Eurostar, Thalys, DB, Netherlands Rail, Austrian Railways, BR, Korail (conventional), Korail KTX

#15 cpotisch

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Posted 21 August 2018 - 07:15 PM

Do sign up for Via Preference before you book, as one trip between Vancouver and Toronto in a private accommodation will be enough to up to the "Privilege" elite level (CAD $999 spend).  That will entitle you to a 50% off coupon (off the full undiscounted summer fare, but still good) that you can use on any train that has "discount" inventory available.  It is a deeper discount than even off-season discount.

Wait so can you use that 50% off coupon on all accommodations?


Routes Traveled: Silver Meteor, Silver Star, CrescentLake Shore LimitedCalifornia Zephyr, Sunset Limited, Texas EagleEthan Allen Express, Empire Service, Maple Leaf, AdirondackAcela Express, Northeast RegionalKeystone Service, Downeaster w/ Great Dome
 
Wish List: Auto Train, Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome


#16 zephyr17

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Posted 21 August 2018 - 10:12 PM

The Privilege coupon is good for any Sleeper Plus accommodation as long as there is discount inventory.
Pre Amtrak: SP Coast Daylight, AT&SF San Diegan, AT&SF Super Chief, D&RGW Rio Grande Zephyr; Amtrak: Southwest Limited/Chief, San Diegan/Pacific Surfliner, San Joaquin, Cascades, California/San Francisco Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, Sunset Limited (LA-ORL), Desert Wind, Pioneer, City of New Orleans, Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Lake Shore Limited (NY Section), Cardinal, Hoosier State (Amtrak),  Hoosier State (Iowa Pacific), Ann Rutledge, Adirondack, Maple Leaf, NE Regional, Capitol Limited, Crescent, Acela Express, Lake Shore Limited (Boston Section)
Via Rail Canada: Via Canadian (CP route), Via Super Continental, Via Atlantic Limited, Via Hudson Bay, Via Skeena, Via Canadian (CN route), Via "Corridor" (Toronto-Montreal); 
Other: BC Rail Cariboo Dayliner, Alaska Railroad, Eurostar, Thalys, DB, Netherlands Rail, Austrian Railways, BR, Korail (conventional), Korail KTX

#17 cpotisch

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Posted 22 August 2018 - 02:13 AM

The Privilege coupon is good for any Sleeper Plus accommodation as long as there is discount inventory.

Sorry, so is the coupon only for discounted Sleeper Plus accommodations, or is it for any Sleeper Plus accommodation so long as there is discounted inventory available on that train? Sorry if this is really obvious.


Edited by cpotisch, 22 August 2018 - 02:14 AM.

Routes Traveled: Silver Meteor, Silver Star, CrescentLake Shore LimitedCalifornia Zephyr, Sunset Limited, Texas EagleEthan Allen Express, Empire Service, Maple Leaf, AdirondackAcela Express, Northeast RegionalKeystone Service, Downeaster w/ Great Dome
 
Wish List: Auto Train, Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome


#18 NS VIA Fan

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Posted 22 August 2018 - 05:06 AM

Discounted Sleeper Plus and Sleeper Plus are the same accommodations and include the same amenities but yes.....the coupon can only be used if there's discounted inventory available.

(BTW...the OP started this thread a year ago)

Here's my two coupons:
(Under each coupon you can select one of the four boxes)

Attached Files


Edited by NS VIA Fan, 22 August 2018 - 05:30 AM.


#19 zephyr17

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Posted 22 August 2018 - 10:32 AM


The Privilege coupon is good for any Sleeper Plus accommodation as long as there is discount inventory.

Sorry, so is the coupon only for discounted Sleeper Plus accommodations, or is it for any Sleeper Plus accommodation so long as there is discounted inventory available on that train? Sorry if this is really obvious.
Think Amtrak buckets, except there are only two, discounted and not discounted.
Pre Amtrak: SP Coast Daylight, AT&SF San Diegan, AT&SF Super Chief, D&RGW Rio Grande Zephyr; Amtrak: Southwest Limited/Chief, San Diegan/Pacific Surfliner, San Joaquin, Cascades, California/San Francisco Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, Sunset Limited (LA-ORL), Desert Wind, Pioneer, City of New Orleans, Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Lake Shore Limited (NY Section), Cardinal, Hoosier State (Amtrak),  Hoosier State (Iowa Pacific), Ann Rutledge, Adirondack, Maple Leaf, NE Regional, Capitol Limited, Crescent, Acela Express, Lake Shore Limited (Boston Section)
Via Rail Canada: Via Canadian (CP route), Via Super Continental, Via Atlantic Limited, Via Hudson Bay, Via Skeena, Via Canadian (CN route), Via "Corridor" (Toronto-Montreal); 
Other: BC Rail Cariboo Dayliner, Alaska Railroad, Eurostar, Thalys, DB, Netherlands Rail, Austrian Railways, BR, Korail (conventional), Korail KTX

#20 cpotisch

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Posted 22 August 2018 - 11:27 AM

 

 

The Privilege coupon is good for any Sleeper Plus accommodation as long as there is discount inventory.

Sorry, so is the coupon only for discounted Sleeper Plus accommodations, or is it for any Sleeper Plus accommodation so long as there is discounted inventory available on that train? Sorry if this is really obvious.
Think Amtrak buckets, except there are only two, discounted and not discounted.

I understand that rooms will be either discounted or not discounted. I was asking if you were saying that the coupon can only be used on discounted inventory, or for any accommodation on a train that still offers discounted inventory. But NS Via Fan cleared it all up for me, so it's fine.


Edited by cpotisch, 22 August 2018 - 11:28 AM.

Routes Traveled: Silver Meteor, Silver Star, CrescentLake Shore LimitedCalifornia Zephyr, Sunset Limited, Texas EagleEthan Allen Express, Empire Service, Maple Leaf, AdirondackAcela Express, Northeast RegionalKeystone Service, Downeaster w/ Great Dome
 
Wish List: Auto Train, Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome





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