VIA Rail Canada
VIA Rail Canada is Canada’s national passenger rail system connecting the coasts of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic oceans over 12,500 kilometers (7,767 miles) of track and eight provinces. With a combination of short- and long-distance journeys and fares to fit any budget, VIA Rail’s network provides the perfect opportunity for group and FIT travelers to get to know Canada’s friendly people and explore the country’s stunning scenery and its largest cities on a year-round basis.
Perhaps VIA Rail’s most iconic line, the Canadian is one of the longest rail journeys in the world, connecting Vancouver, British Columbia, and Toronto, Ontario, over four days and four nights and 4,466 kilometers (2,775 miles). Despite the route’s expansive coverage, passengers can enjoy several different itinerary options from one to four nights, depending on the preferences of itinerary planners. Common itineraries include Vancouver-to-Toronto (four nights), Jasper/Toronto (three nights), Vancouver/Toronto with a stopover in Jasper to explore the Rocky Mountains, or Vancouver/Jasper (one night) on a year-round basis.
The Canadian’s journey takes travelers through some of North America’s best scenery, including the Rocky Mountains, prairie grasslands, and the Canadian Shield covered in boreal forests, granite hills, and thousands of lakes. Over its four-day passage, the Canadian winds its way through British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario while connecting the cities of Vancouver, Jasper, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, and Toronto as well as hundreds of smaller communities along the way.
Passengers traveling on the Canadian can choose from different classes of service, including Economy, Sleeper Plus, and Prestige class.
Economy class offers comfort and value while providing a spacious seat, limited food and beverage for purchase, and access to a domed lounge car.
Sleeper Plus class, VIA’s most popular class of service for groups and FIT travelers, offers semi-private and private accommodations, complete with comfortable beds, access to showers, and multiple domed lounge cars along with meals served in the train’s dining car. Semi-private upper and lower berths in addition to private cabins for one, two, or four passengers are available for travelers to choose from. During peak summer travel between the months of May and October, passengers enjoy the passing scenery as well as on-board entertainment, which includes musicians, timely geographical narration, educational vignettes, and Canadian wine and beer tastings to complement the experience.
VIA’s highest level of service can be found on the Canadian in Prestige class. With limited inventory located at the rear of the train, Prestige passengers are treated to the greatest standard of service with dedicated concierge attendants, the train’s largest rooms complete with flat-screen televisions, private showers with heated floors, and large leather sectional couches by day and double-sized beds at night. Peak summer travel also includes exclusive daily access to the famed Park car with two lounges and an upstairs dome seating area. All passengers traveling in Prestige class also enjoy a fully inclusive meal and beverage package while traveling on the Canadian on journeys of two or more nights.
For passengers traveling in Sleeper Plus or Prestige class, dining on the Canadian is always a highlight, and the experience calls back upon the golden era of North American rail travel with the elegant setting of art deco-style dining cars. On-board chefs prepare fresh meals with menus changing daily, each day ending with three-course dinners with options ranging from prime rib, rack of lamb, and potato-chive-crusted cod. (Meals are suited to cater to any passenger.) Breakfast consists of changing daily specials, including eggs Benedict, stuffed French toast, pancakes, and scrambles. Throughout the journey, Canadian wine and beers are served, allowing travelers to experience wineries and breweries from around Canada.
In addition to the Canadian, VIA Rail offers many great experiences across Canada, including access to Churchill, Manitoba, home to the amazing polar bear and beluga whale as well as northern lights-viewing opportunities. In Northern B.C., passengers can travel to Prince Rupert along the rugged north Pacific coast to take in grizzly bear and humpback whale tours or catch a ferry to Vancouver Island. The extensive network in southern Ontario and Quebec connects Canada’s largest cities, including Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Quebec City in business and economy class. Not to be outdone, the Ocean, VIA Rail’s eastern transcontinental journey, connects Montreal and Quebec City to quaint and beautiful Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the Maritime region of Canada.
For more information on rates, schedules, and VIA Rail’s group-friendly options, please reach out to Ryan Robutka, senior manager, market development.
Photos by VIA Rail Canada