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


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#41 Skyline

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Posted 20 September 2017 - 10:18 PM

 

I dont know about the winter, but this summer, on the Canadian, only the Prestige passengers were able to access the Park Car.


Then someone got it wrong.....hope you didn't miss out on the Park Car!

All Sleeper passengers have access to the Park Car yearround except it is restricted to Prestige only in the summer on the first night only departing Toronto and Vancouver..and also most mornings. From 2pm on all sleeper passengers have access to the Park Car even during the summer.

"Access to the Prestige Park car: Starting April 30, 2017, during peak season access to the Prestige Park Car will be limited to scheduled times for Sleeper Plus passengers. Sleeper Plus passengers will be able to access the Prestige Park car on the following schedule: from 2:00PM until last call 10:30PM, with the exception of evenings upon departure from Toronto and Vancouver where access will be exclusive to Prestige passengers. *Scheduled access times are subject to change.

A select number of seats in the Prestige Park car are reserved for our Prestige passengers at all times in the scenic dome (year-round)"


http://www.viarail.c...mpare-amenities

 

 

 

That was our experience in May, too. After 2pm we could use the Park car because we were in regular sleepers. The first two rows of seats in the dome were off-limits to anyone not travelling Prestige. These were clearly marked.

 

The Park is classic LD railroading, upgraded. Not to be missed.



#42 Lonestar648

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Posted 22 September 2017 - 11:12 AM

How many Prestige cars are in a consist?  How does the Canadian monitor who has access?  Is it the honor system or does the staff check tickets?



#43 zephyr17

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Posted 22 September 2017 - 12:19 PM

There appear to be 2 Prestige Chateaus, plus the Prestige rooms in the Prestige Park in the summer.  One Prestige Chateau in the winter.

 

Since I ride in the off season, I don't know about how access is controlled to the Park when it is entirely restricted.  In the winter, the first two rows have Prestige only marked, people generally respected it.


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

#44 JRR

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Posted 22 September 2017 - 12:27 PM

My recollection is that we were given "wrist bands" to wear which identified us as sleeper car riders.

I am not sure about the "Prestige" riders, but they had their own separate lounge area in the Jasper Station where we got on, and were taken by shuttle to their cars which were at the end( with the exception of the trailing Park car) of our 27 car consist.


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#45 Maverickstation

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Posted 22 September 2017 - 01:13 PM

We were on The Ocean a few weeks back and all Sleeper Plus riders were given wristbands to identify who could use the Park Car, and for that matter the 2nd dome Car as well. These Dome Cars are true gems of the past, and I would recommend riding them while VIA is still using them.


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#46 zephyr17

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Posted 22 September 2017 - 01:53 PM

When I rode it last fall, there were no wrist bands.  They just knew who was who.  Of course, it was an 8 car train that wasn't full, so they could keep track of who was who, as opposed to the 26+ car behemoth it becomes in  the summer.

 

I am riding again, departing Vancouver on 10/31.  I'll post what they do.


Edited by zephyr17, 22 September 2017 - 01:53 PM.

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

#47 Maverickstation

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 06:01 AM

Attached File  dome.jpg   148.76KB   10 downloadsAs to why The Canadian has it over the Empire Builder,there is nothing like riding in a Vista Dome, and an Observation Car.  


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Location: Boston MA, the greatest city in America, and home of South Station, Amtrak's best large city station.

 


#48 JRR

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 06:08 AM

And the food was outstanding!


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#49 s10mk

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 01:24 PM

Op here.
Sorry to bump an old thread. But I've been getting ready to book my tickets. I'm planning on traveling in early may, and to get low buckets on amtrak, I need to book early..but via rail sleeper plus deals are only available a few weeks or at most a month in advance. Would it be a bad idea to book the amtrak portions of my trip now, and wait for sleeper plus deals on via rail?

#50 zephyr17

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 01:42 PM

There is no telling whether or not your city pairs will become available on the sleeper plus deals on the dates you want.  If you try to shoot for the deals, you need to keep your plans flexible, so if you book Amtrak, you should do it in such a way that at least a couple of departures of the Canadian are available.   Also, just FYI, most of the deals lately seem to be only for berths, not rooms, not sure if you care, though. 

 

You need to allow for the Canadian's truly catastrophic on time performace in your travel plans, 10 hours late is absolutely routine, 24 hours late is not uncommon now, and a recent trip was 44 hours late.  You need at least a day layover at your endpoint and, the way it is performing now, two days is not a bad idea.  Also, one more reason to go eastbound rather than westbound is they do a same day turnaround in Toronto, and the horribly late eastbound train delays the departure of the westbound for hours and hours.  

 

Sign up for Via's frequent traveler program, Preference.  If you spend over $999 CAD in one year, you qualify for their elite tier and you will get a 50% off (peak fare) coupon for Sleeper Plus that you can use any time and reserve whenever you like.

 

Finally, bear in mind that in May the Park Car restrictions will be in effect.


Edited by zephyr17, 23 January 2018 - 02:06 PM.

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

#51 s10mk

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 03:14 PM

 
Sign up for Via's frequent traveler program, Preference.  If you spend over $999 CAD in one year, you qualify for their elite tier and you will get a 50% off (peak fare) coupon for Sleeper Plus that you can use any time and reserve whenever you like.
 
Finally, bear in mind that in May the Park Car restrictions will be in effect.

I already signed up for vias preference program, so ill be able to apply the cost of this ticket towards the 999 cad yearly limit.

I wouldn't mind a cabin for 1, but more than likely ill be getting a lower berth for my trip. I may have misunderstood the park car restrictions, I thought any sleeper plus passengers could ride in the park car.

But I digress, after some thinking..I might split this up in two separate trips. In march, I might fly to Vancouver, and ride the Canadian to Toronto. I would really like to experience the Canadian this year. Then in May, I might do a CZ, CS, EB loop. For the sake of planning and simplicity, that might work out a little better

#52 zephyr17

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 04:45 PM

In high season, which May is, access to the Park car is reserved for Prestige class passengers for a good part of the day.  From Via's website:

 

Access to the Prestige Park car: During peak season*, access to the Prestige Park Car will be limited to scheduled times for Sleeper Plus passengers. Sleeper Plus passengers will be able to access the Prestige Park car on the following schedule: from 4:00PM until last call 10:30PM, with the exception of evenings upon departure from Toronto and Vancouver where access will be exclusive to Prestige passengers. Scheduled access times are subject to change. *Peak Season 2018: April 29 – October 11, 2018

 

Also, note that when I rode it in November, in talking with passengers and staff, I heard that the sometimes the Park was restricted entirely to Prestige all the time when the Prestige load was high during the summer.

 

I've ridden the Canadian in the high season and the off season and I much prefer the off season version of the train, it isn't a 26 car monster, it is a lot lower key and relaxed.  So I think your March plan is probably a good one.  Also, I highly recommend going eastbound, better schedule for scenary, especially considering the delays the train is currently encountering, and since there is not a same day turn in Vancouver, a more reliable departure time.  Parenthetically, when we were arriving 10 hours late into Toronto in November, I heard over the radio the service manager announcing the departure and rest plans for the crew.  They were planning for a 2 am westbound departure.  That did not sound like fun.


Edited by zephyr17, 23 January 2018 - 04:47 PM.

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

#53 s10mk

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 02:03 PM

Hi everyone, thanks for your help. I'm booked on the CZ westbound, CS north, and the EB eastbound. Pictures to follow!




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