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

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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

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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

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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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