YOU CAN EDIT THIS PAGE! Just click any blue "Edit" link and start writing!

Difference between revisions of "Rail travel in Canada"

From Wikitravel
Jump to: navigation, search
Rail travel in Canada

Default Banner.jpg

(Passenger rail companies: corrected url)
Line 20: Line 20:
 
# You must also travel on both an Amtrak train and a VIA Rail train.
 
# You must also travel on both an Amtrak train and a VIA Rail train.
 
# Your last trip must end by midnight on the last night the pass is valid.
 
# Your last trip must end by midnight on the last night the pass is valid.
# You may ''only'' use ''four'' one way passes on any one particular leg.
+
# You may use ''only'' ''four'' one-way passes on any one particular leg.
  
 
* '''Canrailpass''' [http://www.viarail.ca/planner/en_cart_canr.html] Valid on any train and route that VIA Rail operates and allows the holder one seat in "Comfort class." The pass allows passengers 12 to 15 days of unlimited travel within a 30 day period.
 
* '''Canrailpass''' [http://www.viarail.ca/planner/en_cart_canr.html] Valid on any train and route that VIA Rail operates and allows the holder one seat in "Comfort class." The pass allows passengers 12 to 15 days of unlimited travel within a 30 day period.
Line 32: Line 32:
 
Look out for the rail sale section of the website.  You can snag $70 one way coach fares between Chicago and the West Coast.  You may get a sleeper with these fares, upon paying the supplement, if they are available.
 
Look out for the rail sale section of the website.  You can snag $70 one way coach fares between Chicago and the West Coast.  You may get a sleeper with these fares, upon paying the supplement, if they are available.
  
Effective April 1, 2005 to obtain a discount on Amtrak trains passengers must reserve three days in advance on all trains.
+
Effective April 1, 2005, to obtain a discount on Amtrak trains, passengers must reserve three days in advance on all trains.
  
 
==Passenger rail companies==
 
==Passenger rail companies==
Line 55: Line 55:
 
===VIA Rail Canada===
 
===VIA Rail Canada===
  
*'''The Canadian''', [http://www.viarail.ca/trains/en_trai_toja.html]. Runs from [[Toronto]] to [[Vancouver]] via [[Winnipeg]], [[Edmonton]], and [[Jasper]]. VIA Rail's flagship service, and now the only remaining service to cross Canada's prairies. The complete journey takes three days. A seat in Comfort (economy or coach) is around $550 before discounts; comfortable sleeper accommodations are also available.
+
*'''The Canadian''', [http://www.viarail.ca/trains/en_trai_toja.html]. Runs from [[Toronto]] to [[Vancouver]] via [[Winnipeg]], [[Edmonton]], and [[Jasper]]. VIA Rail's flagship service and now the only remaining service to cross Canada's prairies. The complete journey takes three days. A seat in Comfort (economy or coach) is around $550 before discounts; comfortable sleeper accommodations are also available.
  
 
*'''The Hudson Bay''', [http://www.viarail.ca/trains/en_trai_prai_wich.html]. Connecting with the Canadian in [[Winnipeg]], the Hudson Bay takes travelers from the south to the far north of the province of [[Manitoba]], with three departures a week to [[Churchill]] via [[The Pas]] and [[Thompson]]. A connecting state-subsidised service is available from [[The Pas]] to [[Pukatawagan]], principally for the native communities in that region of Manitoba.  The train is popular with winter tourists who travel north to see [[Churchill]]'s population of polar bears and tends to sell out early.
 
*'''The Hudson Bay''', [http://www.viarail.ca/trains/en_trai_prai_wich.html]. Connecting with the Canadian in [[Winnipeg]], the Hudson Bay takes travelers from the south to the far north of the province of [[Manitoba]], with three departures a week to [[Churchill]] via [[The Pas]] and [[Thompson]]. A connecting state-subsidised service is available from [[The Pas]] to [[Pukatawagan]], principally for the native communities in that region of Manitoba.  The train is popular with winter tourists who travel north to see [[Churchill]]'s population of polar bears and tends to sell out early.

Revision as of 14:24, 23 April 2009

    This article is a travel topic
Although trains are not nearly as ubiquitous and convenient a mode of travel in North America as in Europe, they remain popular with some travelers because of the spacious design of the cars, the scenic routes, and the overall comfort of the train ride. Some people prefer to take trains because they do not require long waits at security like at airports, or because they are uncomfortable with flying. Unfortunately, unlike their European counterparts, passenger trains in Canada outside the urban cores can often be off-schedule, sometimes up to several hours late. Train rides in Canada often take much longer than car rides and plane rides, but, when the service is running well, the unique experience can trump the long ride.

All trains will have coach seats. For longer rides many trains have sleeper rooms. The price of these rooms depends on the quality - whether or not there is a sink, or a private shower/toilet. You will pay a considerable supplement for sleeper car service in addition to the regular fare.

Understand

Canada's railway system primarily transports freight, and freight has priority over rail-line use. Therefore, passenger trains are often delayed. The country's two major railway companies, Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway, turned over operation of their passenger services in 1978 to VIA Rail Canada. In addition to VIA Rail, a few smaller railways in remote areas of Canada also offer passenger service. As well, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver have commuter rail systems. There are also a large number of companies that offer excursion services primarily geared towards tourists.

Peak periods

The peak periods for most rail companies in North America is somewhere between March/April to September, however, you should check with the rail company. In the off-peak season, prices drop significantly on most carriers.

Tickets and Passes

Different passes are available. There is the North American rail pass which is good for unlimited travel in a month, and travel within both the USA and Canada is typically required. Foreigners may be able to get better deals.

Passes

  • North America Rail Pass [1] (AMTRAK) [2] (VIA Rail) allows for unlimited travel within a 30 consecutive day period. The pass allows for travel on most of VIA Rail and Amtrak's 45,000 kilometer (28,000 miles) rail network. The pass costs $709 ($608 for youth under 25) in the off-peak season and $999 in the peak season.

The pass does have some restrictions:

  1. You must embark on at least one trip between the U.S. and Canada.
  2. You must also travel on both an Amtrak train and a VIA Rail train.
  3. Your last trip must end by midnight on the last night the pass is valid.
  4. You may use only four one-way passes on any one particular leg.
  • Canrailpass [3] Valid on any train and route that VIA Rail operates and allows the holder one seat in "Comfort class." The pass allows passengers 12 to 15 days of unlimited travel within a 30 day period.

Discounts

Passengers may be able to get discounts by checking websites, having an AAA or CAA membership, being a veteran, being a senior citizen, or have a student ID.

  • Students (who, for those 18 and over, must have an ISIC [4] to prove eligibility) get 35% off economy class
  • Youth (18-25) get 25% off economy class, 10% off sleeper class, and 10% off multi-day passes
  • Seniors (60+) get 10% off economy class.

Look out for the rail sale section of the website. You can snag $70 one way coach fares between Chicago and the West Coast. You may get a sleeper with these fares, upon paying the supplement, if they are available.

Effective April 1, 2005, to obtain a discount on Amtrak trains, passengers must reserve three days in advance on all trains.

Passenger rail companies

  • VIA Rail Canada [5]
  • Rocky Mountaineer Vacations [6] This company is privately owned and operates most of its routes in Southwestern Canada. The company's GoldLeaf Service - Vancouver to Banff won the title of “World’s Leading Travel Experience by Train” at the 2005 World Travel Awards.
  • Canadian National Railway (CN) [7] While CN turned its passenger services over to VIA Rail in 1978, it acquired the Algoma Central Railway in 2001 and operates passenger services on this line, most notably the Agawa Canyon Tour Train.
  • Ontario Northland Railway [8] This railway, owned by the province of Ontario, operates in the remote northern part of the province. It operates several passenger services, including the Polar Bear Express tourist train (Cochrane-Moosonee) and the Northlander (Toronto-North Bay-Cochrane).
  • Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) [9] While CPR turned its passenger services over to VIA Rail in 1978, it inaugurated its luxury Royal Canadian Pacific service in 2000.
  • Canada Via Rail Tours (CPR) [10] Train tours and vacations through Canada on Canada's only true rail experience, VIA Rail.

Tour Operators/Rail Travel Packages

  • John Steel Rail Tours [11] North America's Rail Travel Specialists
  • Brewster [12]
  • Canada Your Way [13]Canadian vacation package experts, with a strong specialty in rail and train holidays

For more tour operators, see VIA Rail tour operator website [14]

  • Vacations By Rail [15]The Trusted Authority on Rail Travel in Canada

For more tour operators, see VIA Rail tour operator website [16]

Routes/Lines

VIA Rail Canada

  • The Canadian, [17]. Runs from Toronto to Vancouver via Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Jasper. VIA Rail's flagship service and now the only remaining service to cross Canada's prairies. The complete journey takes three days. A seat in Comfort (economy or coach) is around $550 before discounts; comfortable sleeper accommodations are also available.
  • The Hudson Bay, [18]. Connecting with the Canadian in Winnipeg, the Hudson Bay takes travelers from the south to the far north of the province of Manitoba, with three departures a week to Churchill via The Pas and Thompson. A connecting state-subsidised service is available from The Pas to Pukatawagan, principally for the native communities in that region of Manitoba. The train is popular with winter tourists who travel north to see Churchill's population of polar bears and tends to sell out early.
  • The Skeena, [19]. The Skeena connects with the Canadian in Jasper National Park and operates to Prince Rupert. From Prince Rupert one can take ferries to Alaska or Queen Charlotte islands.
  • Quebec - Ontario Corridor, [20]. VIA Rail's offers its most comprehensive intercity passenger service between the cities of Quebec City , Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston Toronto, Sarnia and Windsor. This route operates more than 30 departures in either direction on weekdays, and is as popular with business travellers as tourists due to fast services that are, in most cases, as fast downtown-to-downtown as commercial airlines.

Special stops

VIA Rail offers hikers, kayakers and residents of remote regions the option of special stops at almost any point on several rural routes, as long as passengers purchase their tickets and specify their exact destination 48 hours in advance. This is not available on all routes: most importantly, the Quebec-Ontario corridor is excluded, as are the prairies west of Winnipeg. Please consult the link for more information on stops that are permitted. [22].