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which is better? Empire builder or via-rail Canadian?


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#21 s10mk

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 07:59 PM

All told, I'd rather stay on slow but comfortable and classic Via train number 1 than have to hang around in the Buffalo-Depew station for 10 hours and 40 minutes.  The 4 1/2 hours in Chicago and 8 hours and 25 minutes in Seattle wouldn't be nearly as painful, but that 10 hours in Buffalo is a real deal breaker.

 
Speaking as one who has boarded at Buffalo Depew, I criticize your assessment as being too weak.

I recently road the maple leaf from Niagara Falls, On to Buffalo exchange street station. And I walked around downtown some, that is one run down city. Even the downtown in the middle of the day is dicey.

#22 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 09:31 PM

Speaking for myself Buffalo is Bovine.
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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#23 willem

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 07:30 AM

Via's fare don't vary much within a season (they basically have 3, peak, shoulder and off), so those prices should be good for most of the winter.  They don't do complex yield management apart from the number of spaces available at the "discount" rate.  Also, since VIA no longer separates "rail" and "accomodation" charges, there are some differences from how Amtrak would price it.  The Cabin for 2 (Double Bedroom in traditional accomodation-speak) price essentially represents a 50% surcharge charge for single occupancy of the double room since the request was for only one person.  The per person rate for 2 people in a Cabin for 2 would be the same as 1 person in a cabin for 1 ($2001/$1322 CAD).

 

Via touts its suite for 2, which is two cabins for 2 with the wall removed. I suppose this is similar to Amtrak's suite (for example, rooms D and E on a Superliner). However, Via's suite for 2 costs more than two cabins for 2 each for one person.

 

On Amtrak, the same is true, but I understand it is because the adjacent bedrooms are in different buckets. If only one bedroom is available in the lower bucket, it wouldn't necessarily be a penalty or upcharge for booking the suite, but it sounds like this would not apply to Via.

 

Has anyone here booked a suite on Via or Amtrak? Can anyone comment on the pricing scheme on either railway?



#24 Skyline

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 10:33 AM

 

<snip/>

 

If you're going to ride both trains (and you might want to for the variety), do Amtrak #7 (westbound EB) for a better chance at the Glacier National Park scenery...

Here I'll have to disagree. #7 reaches East Glacier at 6:45PM and West Glacier at 8:23PM, whereas #8 reaches West Glacier at 8:11AM and East Glacier at 9:49AM. If the EB is running a few hours late (not unknown :)), #7 will pass through Marias Pass in the dark, #8 at mid-day.

 

Yes, I see your point. I'd only be right if #7 was on time, and even then while days are longer during the summer. We shouldn't depend on that. My experience train watching from Izaak Walton Inn and hiking near Marias Pass earlier this year was that #8 was within 45 minutes of being on time all four days of my travel and visit, while #7 was too except one day when it was over four hours late. Those who visit the big map daily know that is almost too good to be true over a typical month.

 

However, my recommendation (in context) was based on IF a passenger was going to take the Canadian one way and the Empire Builder the other way. I stand by my recommendation that one do the Canadian eastbound to get the great BC scenery in daylight (usually), which would necessarily mean the Empire Builder westbound.



#25 RPC

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 12:04 PM

 

<snip/>

 

However, my recommendation (in context) was based on IF a passenger was going to take the Canadian one way and the Empire Builder the other way. I stand by my recommendation that one do the Canadian eastbound to get the great BC scenery in daylight (usually), which would necessarily mean the Empire Builder westbound.

 

Ah, now I am enlightened :)  and I concur. In general, as opposed to the "timed for Scenery" CZ, the EB is almost timed AGAINST scenery. For it to catch the Rockies and the Cascades it would have to be a CHI-MSP overnight train. Which would have its charms...



#26 zephyr17

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 12:19 PM

The best schedule I had on the Canadian for scenery was back in the late 80s when it ran over the CP (a more scenic route in any case than CN).  It left Vancouver about 3, so you had the Fraser River Canyon in daylight, at least the lower part.  Then you hit Golden in the morning, and Field mid-morning, so you had the Rockies in mid-morning.  I'd wake up coming down the hill from the Connought Tunnel in Rogers Pass.

 

Better timing on a better route.  Sigh.  At least it is still running, somewhere.  


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


#27 zephyr17

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 12:27 PM

 

Via's fare don't vary much within a season (they basically have 3, peak, shoulder and off), so those prices should be good for most of the winter.  They don't do complex yield management apart from the number of spaces available at the "discount" rate.  Also, since VIA no longer separates "rail" and "accomodation" charges, there are some differences from how Amtrak would price it.  The Cabin for 2 (Double Bedroom in traditional accomodation-speak) price essentially represents a 50% surcharge charge for single occupancy of the double room since the request was for only one person.  The per person rate for 2 people in a Cabin for 2 would be the same as 1 person in a cabin for 1 ($2001/$1322 CAD).

 

Via touts its suite for 2, which is two cabins for 2 with the wall removed. I suppose this is similar to Amtrak's suite (for example, rooms D and E on a Superliner). However, Via's suite for 2 costs more than two cabins for 2 each for one person.

 

On Amtrak, the same is true, but I understand it is because the adjacent bedrooms are in different buckets. If only one bedroom is available in the lower bucket, it wouldn't necessarily be a penalty or upcharge for booking the suite, but it sounds like this would not apply to Via.

 

Has anyone here booked a suite on Via or Amtrak? Can anyone comment on the pricing scheme on either railway?

 

On Via, the 50% surchage applies for the two double bedrooms that make up the suite each occupied by a single person.  It is quite simple.  If you had four people in a bedroom suite, the per person price would be the same as two in a double bedroom, or one in a roomette.

 

On Amtrak you pay the accomodation charge for each room.  If they are in separate buckets, one is at one bucket price, the other at the other.  

 

I think Via's per person pricing scheme is more in line with what people expect today and is more understandable to the general public.  Amtrak's rail + accomodation scheme is how the railroads always did it and is a holdover in that sense.  I like Amtrak's scheme better, it is a "hotel room" model, you buy the transportation fare, then buy the room.  But then again I am very used to it.

 

Physically, it is just like Amtrak.  There is a removable barrier between certain rooms that can be opened up.  Makes sense, since Amtrak's bedrooms (deluxe bedrooms) were modeled after the double bedroom, although perceptibly bigger.  Pullman-Standard designed the Superliners, after all.


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


#28 willem

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 12:58 PM

Via's fare don't vary much within a season (they basically have 3, peak, shoulder and off), so those prices should be good for most of the winter.  They don't do complex yield management apart from the number of spaces available at the "discount" rate.  Also, since VIA no longer separates "rail" and "accomodation" charges, there are some differences from how Amtrak would price it.  The Cabin for 2 (Double Bedroom in traditional accomodation-speak) price essentially represents a 50% surcharge charge for single occupancy of the double room since the request was for only one person.  The per person rate for 2 people in a Cabin for 2 would be the same as 1 person in a cabin for 1 ($2001/$1322 CAD).

Via touts its suite for 2, which is two cabins for 2 with the wall removed. I suppose this is similar to Amtrak's suite (for example, rooms D and E on a Superliner). However, Via's suite for 2 costs more than two cabins for 2 each for one person.

On Via, the 50% surchage applies for the two double bedrooms that make up the suite each occupied by a single person.  It is quite simple.  If you had four people in a bedroom suite, the per person price would be the same as two in a double bedroom, or one in a roomette.

 
I must be dense, or I didn't make myself clear. The Via suite for 2 costs more than two cabins for 2 each occupied by one person. Put another way, the cost of a suite for 2 was more than double the cost of one cabin for 2 occupied by one person. I believe this is contrary to your explanation, although my ability to misunderstand is vast.

#29 zephyr17

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 03:43 PM

Well, maybe there is an extra surcharge for the two rooms, or the first bedroom was the last in the "Discount" inventory and the second was in the regularly priced inventory.  With 2 rooms at the 50% single surcharge, they are missing out on one whole fare, so an additional surcharge would not surprise me.  Especially, if they "tout" it.  Frankly, I haven't noticed that they really tout it, especially for  for two people.  The closest I have seen is the brochure where it talks about suites and "To accomodate four persons, please contact us."  There isn't a suite option on the web booking engine, just Cabin for 1, 2.

 

With VIA it is pretty easy to figure out, just use the Cabin for 1 price per person as the base and you can probably impute what is going on.  VIA's pricing is pretty straightforward.  Have to have the actual quotes to do it, though.


Edited by zephyr17, 15 September 2017 - 04:41 PM.

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


#30 Skyline

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 07:44 PM

Ah, now I am enlightened :)  and I concur. In general, as opposed to the "timed for Scenery" CZ, the EB is almost timed AGAINST scenery. For it to catch the Rockies and the Cascades it would have to be a CHI-MSP overnight train. Which would have its charms...

 

 

 

And if it is on time, the westbound Canadian is timed against scenery too. When planning the trip, I was hoping to be about six hours late to counteract that. Be careful what you wish for. We were 13+ hours late, but we did get a lot of scenery most folks miss.

 

It was mid-May, and there were 28 cars of all types in the consist. Like a mid-summer Canadian but slightly lower fares and very few young people. Myriad senior tour groups from Britain, Australia, and elsewhere all on the same train. Additionally we were deadheading a Rocky Mountaineer coach which more than one crew member insisted was causing #1 that trip to adhere to slow orders. I never got a real explanation for that though. Is that even plausible?



#31 Bob Dylan

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 07:49 PM

The Slow orders could have been because of a defect in the Deadhead Rocky Mountain Car, but the usual reasons for Late to Very Late Canadians are due to the many Long freights receiving dispatching priority.
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