Via Rail Canada And Other Canadian Rail Providers

Sat May 25, 2002 12:53 pm

Has anyone been on these trains? I have never been on a train so I don't know how they measure up compared to something like Amtrak. Has anyone used the Canrail Pass where for $600 you can go anywhere? Are there any alternatives to Via Rail? Thanks.

RE: Via Rail Canada And Other Canadian Rail Providers

Sat May 25, 2002 11:14 pm

The last time I took VIA was 10 years ago, between Toronto and Cornwall. I wasn't impressed with it. The train was late and the staff was indifferent.

If you take VIA, be prepared for long delays. VIA doesn't own any of its own tracks: it normally uses tracks leased from the freight railways. This means freight gets priority over passengers, and VIA trains must stop and wait for freight trains to pass if there's a conflict. If you get to your destination less than one hour late, you're ahead of the game.

There have been some upgrades in recent years in the Toronto-Quebec City corridor, but many of the passenger cars on other routes are very old. Many, I've heard, date back to the '50s and '60s.

Also, some trains only run several times a week.
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RE: Via Rail Canada And Other Canadian Rail Providers

Sun May 26, 2002 2:09 am

I rode VIA just last summer, from Montreal-Quebec and back. I found the train to be very much on time, and the crew was very helpful. I was fortunate enought to travel first class, so the crew served food for the dinner time run. The food was not very good, but otherwise the trip was very pleasant.
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RE: Via Rail Canada And Other Canadian Rail Providers

Sun May 26, 2002 7:15 am

VIA no longer provides complementary meals in coach, they haven't for quite some time. However, their punctuality is not all that bad, at least in my experience. Via 1 service is very nice however, and on a trip to Montreal, I would choose that easially over Air Canada. The train makes only one stop and takes less than four hours from Toronto-Montreal, which is less than it takes to drive to YYZ, check in, get the bags in YUL and get a cab.
There is also an overnight train that offers private bedrooms, but I haven't experienced that yet.

VIA is getting brand-new coaches in the year that were purchased from the UK after the consortium that was to use them went out of existence. They call them the "renaissance trains". It should be an improvement over the LRC trains, with 1-2 seating in coach it should be very spacious. However, the older hardware in my opinion was much more comfortable than the LRC trains, with a much smoother ride and less side-to-side swaying, obviously a result of being much heavier.

Keep in mind that VIA is a government owned Crown Corporation formed after CP and CN decided to get out of the unprofitable passenger business. There are no competitors.
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RE: Via Rail Canada And Other Canadian Rail Providers

Sun May 26, 2002 7:34 am

If you spend extra their first class is excellent. Reminds me of a luxury airlines first class.
king penguin
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Joined: Sun Nov 11, 2001 2:53 pm

RE: Via Rail Canada And Other Canadian Rail Providers

Sun May 26, 2002 12:55 pm

On the whole, I've been very satisfied with my recent VIA trips -- good food, comfortable enough. But it is definitely worth your while to spend the extra money for 1st class.

Last year:

Toronto-Montreal, in coach -- like coach in an airplane: seat pitch and width could be better, bring your own food, etc. But the ride was alright.

Montreal-Halifax return, in first (single sleeper) -- not for the claustrophobic, as the roomette is tight for space, but everything fits in and gets the job done. Food was simple but good, though you do have to pay for it. The lounge/bar car at the back, with observation deck, is well worth a visit. Complimentary continental breakfast provided there; simple but enough if all you want is a coffee and roll etc.

Montreal-Toronto, in VIA 1 -- much better than coach in terms of room, though still 2 x 2 seating; food (free) was reminiscent of airline type, but actually very nice. Big excitement was kids throwing rocks at the train at several level crossings near Cornwall ( i think it was); at any rate, they shattered one of the windows.

two years ago:

Toronto-Winnipeg return, in Silver & Blue (first) class, in single bedroom -- again, roomette is small, but functional. All meals here are included in the first class ticket prices; the food was excellent, nothing less. Much fancier selection, too, than on the East Coast run.

All in all, well worth a try. Nice to just sit back and watch the scenery roll by. The old (50's is it?) carriages are nicely refurbished; the restaurant car with its decorated glass partitions is especially attractive. And you meet all sorts of interesting people to talk to.



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