VIA Rail Canada’s Canadian is the only regularly scheduled train in North America included in the Society of International Railway Travelers 2008 “World’s Top 25 Trains” survey. Though Canada’s national rail service is often cited for convenient schedules, excellent service and a comfortable ride, Mother Nature can take credit for providing some of the most beautiful “moving pictures” this side of the Discovery Channel on HDTV. Except this is the real thing.
Canada’s ever-changing landscapes—majestic, snow-capped mountains; wide-open ranges; frontier towns; and historic cities—unfold up close and in real time, viewed from the picture window of a moving train.
VIA Rail’s vacation packages are based on individual tastes, interests and budgets. Activities run the gamut from city touring, wine tours and shopping to fishing and educational programs. Destinations, equally varied, range from trendy Vancouver to the rugged tundra of Churchill, Manitoba, the polar bear capital of the world.
VIA’s corridor services provide travelers with the opportunity to experience the diversity of Ontario/Quebec. Operating from downtown to downtown, the train offers numerous advantages over air travel—avoiding the long drives to and from the airport, the in-terminal delays checking in and waiting to board, and luggage and other security checks.
One of VIA’s most exciting offerings, seeing Canada cross-country onboard the flagship Western transcontinental Canadian, showcases one of the most popular regions in the country. Starting in Vancouver, it travels through the Canadian Rockies before arriving at its final destination, Quebec City.
The Canadian’s Silver & Blue sleeping-car class offers private cabins with duvet bedding and an elegant dining car featuring a menu of regional cuisine and wines. Providing a backdrop to the pampered service is the exclusive use of the 360-degree, domed viewing car, which provides passengers with breathtaking views of the stunning mountain scenery unfolding around them.
In December 2008, the Canadian introduced an evening departure time from both Vancouver and Toronto, providing passengers with more daylight viewing through the Rockies. The train from Vancouver will depart at 10:30 p.m. and arrive in Toronto four days later, at 9:30 a.m. Departure from Toronto will be at 10 p.m., with arrival in Vancouver four days later, at 9:42 a.m.
On most corridor trains, travelers can choose from Comfort (economy) or VIA 1 (first-class) service. Accommodations available through the latter include exclusive use of Panorama Lounges at major stations, priority boarding, comfortable seats with plenty of leg room, and inclusive meals and bar service. An assortment of snacks and beverages is available for purchase in Comfort class. Pay-for-use Wi-Fi service is also available on all corridor trains.
VIA travel passes offer an economical travel option and feature the of a Canrailpass (12 days’ travel anywhere in Canada in a 30-day period), Corridorpass (10 days of unlimited travel in the Quebec City-to-Windsor corridor) and North American Rail Pass (30 days’ travel in Canada and the U.S.). For more information, call 800-361-8010 or visit www.via.ca.--Jack McGuire