Just returned after riding the CANADIAN from Vancouver to Toronto February 13-17. The trip was good and the Via staff very good. However, the equipment is showing it's age and my Manor Room for 2 was quite mechanically noisy including a loud whining fan sounding like noise and I had to wear ear plugs to sleep at night. I was in car 212 which sold to me as the rearmost Manor car but unfortunately Via is now running the Manor car in ascending number order meaning that the Manor car 210 was next to the dining car and cars 211, 212, and 213 were closer to the economy skyline dome car with 213 being adjacent to the economy skyline car. All was well since we only had about 70 passengers Vancouver to Jasper and just over 40 passengers from Jasper to Toronto. We all got to know each other well and I enjoy the mix and friendliness of my fellow passengers. The meals in the dining car were good but no better than Amtrak and were basically pre-prepared and brought on board to be heated. I found this out when I was told that the meat could not be cooked to order so I did not choose to order the bloody red meat but stayed with chicken or fish. Also discovered that almost all the on board staff for the CANADIAN live in Winnipeg instead of Vancouver or Toronto. Since I'm not wealthy, I think the CANADIAN's refurbishing of some Chateau cars and the Park car into very expensive Prestige class is a mistake. I think only two Prestige rooms were sold or occupied on my trip so we did not have a problem of class distinction in the Park car but from April to October only Prestige customers will be allowed in the Park car most of the daylight hours.
My trip was 14 hours late losing almost all that time between Saskatoon and Winnipeg. Weather was not a problem nor any mechanical delays. Simple fact is that CN freight is king and we lost all our time sitting 2 plus hours in Saskatoon, 5 hours in Melville, and 2 hours about 45 miles outside of Winnipeg was multiple widely separated was too long freight trains passed going in the opposite direction. And, yes, we still stopped frequently to let just one freight at a time pass away from these stations. In the end, we arrived Vancouver 10:50 PM Saturday night. Schedule arrival time was 9:30 AM Saturday morning. The on board crew returns to Winnipeg on the Train #1 so Via needs 8 hours to restock and clean the train and provide request rest period in a hotel for the on board crew. I observed that the train #1 did not depart Toronto until 9:55 AM Sunday morning.
Since this was my fourth trip on the CANADIAN with the others being in the 80's and 90's and last one in 2002, I can truthfully say this is no longer the great train trip it was on those trips. Since I'm 76, I will stick to Amtrak long distance trains and probably never return to ride the CANADIAN ever again. I will simply remember the good ole "Silver and Blue" class service before Prestige replaced it and took the price of the CANADIAN way out of the normal income persons ability to pay.