September 17 Pamela MacNaughtan

UPDATED: How To Travel With VIA Rail On A Budget

UPDATED: May 17, 2015

Travelling in Canada by train is a dream trips for many Canadians (and international travellers), but as Canada is not the cheapest country in terms of transportation costs, many travellers hold back and wait for retirement thinking that there is no way they can possibly afford such a trip.

Oh, silly, silly people.

Believe it or not travelling in Canada by train CAN be done on a budget. The trick is to do a little research (which I’m doing to do for you in this post), and be ready to pounce when a deal comes along! I’ve spent HOURS on the VIA Rail Canada website looking for all the information I wanted to include in this post, and thanks to my penchant for being too detailed, this post is rather long. Oops!!

You’ll probably want to bookmark this post, and then share it as well. Just a wee suggestion. 😉

VIA Rail Routes

Polar Bear swimming in Churchill

Polar Bear swimming in Churchill

Depending on your goals for travelling across Canada, you may need to travel on more than one route offered by VIA Rail – which is a fab idea if you ask me! Here is a breakdown of the routes:

The Ocean – This line runs from Halifax to Montréal with stops in places like Moncton and Québec City. The Ocean offers economy and sleeper and sleeper plus classes, and a panoramic car. The train runs on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday from Montréal and Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday from Halifax. There is FREE wi-fi available in the service cars.

Montréal – Gaspé – This line has both economy and sleeper class, and meals are available for purchase from the service car. This is an overnight train which runs Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday from Montréal and Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday from Gaspé.

Montréal – Jonquière  – This line is a great option for a short getaway into the Saguney region and do a little wildlife and whale watching. The trip is about nine hours long and the train runs Monday, Wednesday, Friday from Montréal and Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday from Jonquière. Important note: During infrastructure work currently in progress, trains 16 and 17 will not be operating, and train service between Matapédia and Gaspé will be suspended. As an alternative, you can travel on trains 14 and 15 operating between Montréal and Matapédia.

Montréal – Senneterre – This line is for those who go goo-goo for gorgeous scenery as you’ll travel into Northern Québec, otherwise known as the Abitibi-Témiscamingue Region. Only economy class is available on this train. Tickets start at $95 CAD, per direction.

Québec – Windsor Corridor – This is a great way to travel between Québec City to Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, and further down to Windsor. The trips are shorter, which means you have a choice between business and economy class, and there are often fare deals called Escape Fares which will offer cheap fares starting as low as $25. There is FREE wi-fi available throughout the train.

The Canadian – This is by far VIA Rail’s most popular long distance line. This is where they truly shine and if you’re travelling across Canada, you will be on the Canadian line.  This line has economysleeper plus, and prestige class. The Canadian offers dome cars with panoramic views of passengers in every class, as well as activity cars for guests in sleeper plus and prestige class.  The Canadian runs twice a week during low season and three times a week during high season. It’s best to go to the website to find out which days they travel through cities in between Toronto and Vancouver. If you’re travelling straight through from Toronto to Vancouver the trip is four nights, five days.

Winnipeg – Churchill – This line is THE only cheap way to travel to Churchill, Manitoba to see Beluga Whales (July – Aug), and Polar Bears (Oct – Nov). It is an absolute MUST, and it’s long. The trip will take two and a half days. This line has both economy and sleeper plus class, and food is available for purchase in the service cars, for those in economy class.

Jasper – Prince Rupert – This line is on my list for 2014. Prince Rupert is the jumping off point for exploring Haida Gwaii which is a drop-dead gorgeous archipelago in Northern British Columbia. This two-day journey has two classes, touring and economy. If you have the time. GO! This train runs Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.

Sample Itineraries

The following itineraries are merely ideas. You can do pretty much anything you want. It all depends on time and what you’d like to do on your trip. In an effort to show how cheap is CAN be, these itineraries for for economy class travel. That being said, if you have the time and flexibility then I HIGHLY suggest you also shop for last minute deals on the Express Deals page of the website as well (I talk about that in a little bit).

**Note: These are sample itineraries that I have personally researched and created, you will not find these on the VIA Rail website!

The ULTIMATE Across Canada Adventure

The Ultimate Across Canada Adventure Route using VIA Rail

The Ultimate Across Canada Adventure Route using VIA Rail

This economy class trip encompasses The Ocean, a little of the Québec – Windsor Corridor, Churchill, The Canadian, and Prince Rupert. It’s going across Canada and taking some amazing side trips along the way! Prices based on high season and are subject to change. 

The route is: Halifax – Québec City – Montréal – Ottawa – Toronto – Niagara Falls – Toronto – Winnipeg – Churchill – Winnipeg – Saskatoon – Edmonton – Jasper – Prince Rupert – Jasper – Vancouver.

  • Summer Youth (18-25, or 26+ with ISIC): $999 (VIA Network Summer Youth Pass) Buy a one way ticket from Halifax to Québec City. You’ll have 60 days of consecutive travel, with unlimited train trips!
    • Book Canrail Québec Corridor in trips 1.) Québec City to Montréal, 2.) Montréal to Ottawa, 3.) Ottawa to Toronto, 4.) Toronto to Niagara Falls, 5.) Niagara Falls to Toronto.
    • Book Canrail system pass in trips: 1.) Toronto to Saskatoon and use Winnipeg as a FREE stopover, 2.) Winnipeg to Churchill, 3.) Churchill to Winnipeg, 4.) Saskatoon to Jasper and use Edmonton as a FREE stopover, 5.) Jasper to Prince Rupert, 6.) Prince Rupert to Jasper, 7.) Jasper to Vancouver.
  • Adult fare using Canrailpass: $1,520 (High season Canrail system pass, and high season Canrail Québec corridor pass, plus a separate one way fare)
    • Buy a one way ticket from Halifax to Québec City. The cost is roughly $151.
    • Book Canrail Québec Corridor in trips 1.) Québec City to Montréal, 2.) Montréal to Ottawa, 3.) Ottawa to Toronto, 4.) Toronto to Niagara Falls, 5.) Niagara Falls to Toronto. The cost of the Canrailpass Québec City to Windsor Corridor is $361
    • Book Canrail system pass in trips: 1.) Toronto to Saskatoon and use Winnipeg as a FREE stopover, 2.) Winnipeg to Churchill, 3.) Churchill to Winnipeg, 4.) Saskatoon to Jasper and use Edmonton as a FREE stopover, 5.) Jasper to Prince Rupert, 6.) Prince Rupert to Jasper, 7.) Jasper to Vancouver. The cost for the Canrailpass system is $1,008.
  • Buy a one way ticket from Halifax to Québec City. The cost is roughly $151.
  • Book Canrail Québec Corridor in trips 1.) Québec City to Montréal, 2.) Montréal to Ottawa, 3.) Ottawa to Toronto, 4.) Toronto to Niagara Falls, 5.) Niagara Falls to Toronto. The cost of the Canrailpass Québec City to Windsor Corridor is $269.10 (7 one-way trips) – $629.10 (unlimited travel)
  • Book Canrail system pass in trips: 1.) Toronto to Saskatoon and use Winnipeg as a FREE stopover, 2.) Winnipeg to Churchill, 3.) Churchill to Winnipeg, 4.) Saskatoon to Jasper and use Edmonton as a FREE stopover, 5.) Jasper to Prince Rupert, 6.) Prince Rupert to Jasper, 7.) Jasper to Vancouver. The cost for the Canrailpass VIA Network is $629.10 (7 one-way trips) – $1,169.10 (unlimited)

That is 16 city stops for UNDER $1,600! You cannot do that when you fly!! Note, it’s a FAST PACED route. To slow down and enjoy, take off Churchill and expand your time elsewhere.

Rocky Mountain Lovin’ a.k.a Toronto to Vancouver

Rocky Mountain Lovin Route with VIA Rail

Rocky Mountain Lovin Route with VIA Rail

This route is for those who want to travel from Toronto to Vancouver (The Canadian line), with side trips to Churchill and Prince Rupert!

The route is: Toronto –  Winnipeg – Churchill – Winnipeg – Saskatoon – Edmonton – Jasper – Prince Rupert – Jasper – Vancouver

  • Summer Youth (18-25, or 26+ with ISIC): $799 (VIA Network Summer Youth Pass)
    • Book in trips: 1.) Toronto to Saskatoon, using Winnipeg as a FREE stopover, 2.) Winnipeg to Churchill, 3.) Churchill to Winnipeg, 4.) Winnipeg to Edmonton, using Saskatoon as a FREE stopover, 5.) Edmonton to Vancouver, using Jasper as a FREE stopover, 6.) Jasper to Prince Rupert, 7.) Prince Rupert to Jasper
  • Adult fare using Canrail system pass: $809 (High season Canrail system pass)
    • Book in trips: 1.) Toronto to Saskatoon, using Winnipeg as a FREE stopover, 2.) Winnipeg to Churchill, 3.) Churchill to Winnipeg, 4.) Winnipeg to Edmonton, using Saskatoon as a FREE stopover, 5.) Edmonton to Vancouver, using Jasper as a FREE stopover, 6.) Jasper to Prince Rupert, 7.) Prince Rupert to Jasper
  • Book in trips: 1.) Toronto to Saskatoon, using Winnipeg as a FREE stopover, 2.) Winnipeg to Churchill, 3.) Churchill to Winnipeg, 4.) Winnipeg to Edmonton, using Saskatoon as a FREE stopover, 5.) Edmonton to Vancouver, using Jasper as a FREE stopover, 6.) Jasper to Prince Rupert, 7.) Prince Rupert to Jasper

Dude, 10 city stops for UNDER $1,000!!

East Coast Bliss a.k.a Halifax to Toronto

East Coast Bliss Route with VIA Rail

East Coast Bliss Route with VIA Rail

This route is for those who are DYING to explore a part of the Maritimes, Québec, and Southern Ontario. It’s an amazing route, and pretty pretty much any time of year (although it’s f-ing cold in winter).

The route is: Halifax – Moncton – Québec City – Montréal – Jonquière – Montréal – Ottawa – Niagara Falls – Toronto

  • Summer Youth (18-25, or 26+ with ISIC): $799 (VIA Network Youth Summer Pass)
    • Book online using the Multi-city tool, Halifax to Moncton to Québec City, this gives you Moncton as a stopover for FREE!!
    • Book in trips: 1.) Québec City to Montréal, 2.) Montréal to Ottawa , 3.) Ottawa to Niagara Falls, 4.) Niagara Falls to Toronto – Use remaining three tickets for day trips within the Québec City – Windsor Corridor line.
    • Book Montréal to Jonquière online as a return trip.
  • Adult fare using Canrail Québec City – Windsor Corridor pass: $549 (High season Canrail Québec City – Windsor Corridor pass)
    • Book online using the Multi-city tool, Halifax to Moncton to Québec City, this gives you Moncton as a stopover for FREE!! The cost is about $151
    • Book in trips: 1.) Québec City to Montréal, 2.) Montréal to Ottawa , 3.) Ottawa to Niagara Falls, 4.) Niagara Falls to Toronto – Use remaining three tickets for day trips within the Québec City – Windsor Corridor line. The cost for the pass is $269.10
    • Book Montréal to Jonquière online as a return trip, the cost is about $129

That is 9 city stops for UNDER $800!! Again, you cannot do that when you fly. Just sayin’!

Classes

Before I talk about fares, deals, and passes, let’s talk about classes (rhyme not intended) so you know which is best for you and your travel style.

Economy

VIA Rail Business Class

VIA Rail Economy & Business Class look very similar!

Seats in economy are generally very comfortable, come equipped with outlets, and recline for comfort. On trains within the Québec – Windsor Corridor the seats are a little older and may feel more cramped, but on the long distance trains there is more leg room.

Tip: if you’re sitting in four seat section (two seats that face two seats) and nobody is sitting across from you recline both seats and you can lay down flat for overnight sleeping.

Business / Touring Class

Business class is available on trains that travel through the Québec – Windsor Corridor and includes FREE wi-fi, meals, alcoholic beverages, soda, snacks, and has spacious seats with outlets for using laptops and charging devices. Business class passengers have full access to the Panoramic Lounges.

Sleeper Class & Sleeper Plus Class

Cabin for One with VIA Rail

Cabin for One with VIA Rail

There are several different types which vary depending on the line you are travelling on. All passengers travelling in a sleeper class have access to Panoramic Lounges at various VIA Rail stations across Canada. Here is a breakdown:

Berth – This is ideal for a solo traveller and the most economical option. Berths are beds during the day (separated by a curtain), and a bench during the day. This is not a cabin. People will be walking by on their way to their room or another train car. Note: This type of sleeper is only available on the Canadian line, and the trains from Winnipeg – Churchill, and Montréal – Gaspé. 

Cabin for One – This is a great option for a solo traveller who wants the luxury of a private space. All cabin classes come with a fan, air-conditioning, a sink, a private toilet (which is covered by the bed at night, meaning you need to use a public one), drinking water, pillows and bedding, and outlets (I was impressed with the quality of the duvet covers in sleeping class). Cabins for One are small, so during the day your bed is a chair, and at night you bed is either lowered down, or pulled out from the wall. At night you are able to lock your door from the inside. Note: This type of sleeper is only available on the Canadian line, and the trains from Winnipeg – Churchill, and Montréal – Gaspé. 

Cabin for Two – A cabin for two consists of upper and lower beds which are replaced with chairs during the day. The cabin comes with a bathroom with a toilet, and everything else that is included in a cabin for one. The room is cozy, and the beds are quite comfortable. Note: the beds on the Canadian line are bigger than those on the Ocean line. Ask for an ‘F’ cabin on the Canadian line if you want a little more space.

Cabin for Two with Shower – Basically this is the same as a cabin for two, but the bathroom has a shower head. If you’ve travelled to Asia you’ll be fine, if not… you’ll be fine too, just embrace the fact that you’re going to shower beside the toilet. Note: This type of cabin is only available on the Ocean line.

Cabin for Three – If you’re a family with small children then a cabin for three is a great choice. The cabin is very spacious during the day, and comes complete with three beds for during the night. The amenities are exactly the same as a cabin for two. Note: This type of sleeper is only available on the Canadian line, and the trains from Winnipeg – Churchill, and Montréal – Gaspé. 

Cabin for Four – A cabin for four is basically two cabins for two where the wall between the cabins has been removed. The amenities are exactly the same as a cabin for two. Note: This type of sleeper is only available on the Canadian line, and the trains from Winnipeg – Churchill, and Montréal – Gaspé. 

Prestige Class

Brand new for 2015, Prestige class is available on the Canada Line from Toronto to Vancouver. This is meant to be the ultimate luxury class for VIA Rail, with newly renovated cabins featuring a modular L-shaped leather sofa, private washroom with a shower, LCD TV, and a dedicated concierge. Similar to Sleeper Plus class, all meals are included with Prestige class fare. That being said, this class also includes the cost of alcohol and snacks, which is available for a charge to those in Economy and Sleeper Plus classes.

Fares, Deals, and Passes

There are a couple of pricing options available and it’s worth looking into each of them when you’re doing your initial planning.

Youth Fares

VIA Rail Canada offers special fares for youth passengers ages 12 to 25, or 26 and older with an ISIC card. Yay for being young and travelling across Canada! Escape fares are even lower than those of the adult escape fares. I’m talking $30 fares for trips from Ottawa to Montréal.

During the summer months VIA Rail also offers a Summer Youth Pass that provides 60 consecutive days of unlimited train travel for only $999. This pass will be vaild until August 31st.

Child Fares

With VIA Rail children 2 years old and under travel for FREE! Children 2-11 travel for 50% off in economy class. If you’re travelling across Canada in sleeper class child fares are discounted.

Canrail Pass

This pass is available to adults, seniors, youth, and children. There are two types of Canrail Passes, one for the Québec City – Windsor Corridor, and one for the VIA Network. This pass is used for Economy seats only, and available for 7 one-way trips, 10 one-way trips, or unlimited travel, all within 21 days. The cost breakdown is as follows:

  • Adult: 7 one-way trips $269.10, 10 one-way trips $359.10, Unlimited trips $629.10
  • Seniors: 7 one-way trips $254.15, 10 one-way trips $339.15, Unlimited trips $594.15
  • Youth: 7 one-way trips $254.15, 10 one-way trips $339.15, Unlimited trips $594.15
  • Child: 7 one-way trips $254.15, 10 one-way trips $339.15, Unlimited trips $594.15

Escape Fares

If you’re planning to travel in the Québec – Windsor Corridor than look into VIA’s escape fares is definitely a must. This is where you’ll find fares as low as $20 at times. That is a fabulous deal. Express fares is the best place to look when you’re wanting a little getaway.

Express Deals

Express deals are for trains servicing the Canadian line (Toronto – Vancouver). This is THE place to go first when you’re planning a trip across Canada as the fares listed will be at least 50% off. The trick to booking these deals is that you needed to be flexible and able to travel within a couple days in order to take advantage of the deals. I’ve seen sleeper class fares from Toronto to Jasper as low as $480. That is a mind-blowing deal. This is the BEST way to find deals for SLEEPER CLASS FARES!

 

Food

Let’s talk about train food. The food available varies depending on which line and class you’re travelling. Anyone travelling in economy or sleeper class can purchase food in a service car, but the food is a little pricey ($2 for a can of soda, or small bag of chips, $7 for a heated meal). This is standard across all trains. If you’re travelling on The Ocean in sleeper plus your meals are included, and fairly good. The best is the Canadian line which offers gourmet meals cooked by a trained Chef, which is available for sleeper plus passengers (that’s everyone with a sleeper).

My advice? If you’re travelling in economy or sleeper class (Ocean, Montréal to Gaspé, Winnipeg to Churchill), bring non-perishable snacks and some beverages. Here are some ideas:

  • Nuts & granola bars
  • Cured meats
  • Crackers
  • Fruit like apples, oranges, plums, etc (things that keep well)
  • Water, juice, or soda

Basically budget $10 – $15 per day for snacks and food if you plan to bring your own. Cheaper and more filling that way.

Travelling with Pets

VIA Rail has a fairly strict pets policy in that cats, dogs, and small rodents must travel in the baggage car (unless you’re travelling with a guide dog) and have appropriate cages as well. I know that for animal-lovers this will be an atrocious revelation, but for those who have pet allergies is kind of a good one as ventilation on trains is such that smells and dander can carry easily throughout the train.

Visit VIA’s website more on their pet policy.

Note: In summer the trains can sometimes be delayed due to ‘heat slows’ which require the trains to move slower than normal. Always leave a cushion in your schedule when travelling by train!

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About the Author

Pamela MacNaughtan I'm a travel writer and photographer who specializes in bespoke travel experiences. I write about boutique, savvy and cultural travel. My writing has been featured in Outpost Magazine, Travel + Escape, and UP! Magazine.

Comments (50)

  1. This is probably the most extensive travel blog post about Via Rail I’ve seen. Love it. I took Via Rail for the first time since I was like two year old. I ended up getting an express deal from Toronto to Ottawa and then from Ottawa to Montreal. Those express deals are pretty sweet if your schedule is flexible. There were a few $35 one-way from Edmonton to Saskatoon a while back. You definitely can’t drive or fly that route for $35.

    • Pamela MacNaughtan

      Thanks, Alouise! I really wanted to have a concise post on VIA Rail and how to travel with them to save people from spending hours searching their website (which is what I did to research this). Those Express & Escape Deals are f-ing awesome. The passes can be pretty useful as well!

  2. L

    I thought via “downgraded” their youth pricing? No longer applicable to student older than 25 even without a valid isic.

    • Pamela MacNaughtan

      Hi L! I’ve forwarded your question to VIA Rail and I will post their answer as soon as I have it – as I am not sure of the answer at the moment.

    • Pamela MacNaughtan

      Hi, L! Here is the reply from VIA Rail, hope this helps!!

      “On the page http://www.viarail.ca/en/fares-and-packages/discounts/youth-12-25, altho we don’t advertise a “student fare” per se, but instead a “youth fare 12-25”, it does still read: “An ISIC card is no longer necessary to save!
      To benefit from the youth fare or the VIA 6 pak, just present an identity card with your photo and date of birth to a VIA Rail employee upon request. The ISIC card will be accepted for passengers aged 26 and over.”

      We decided to grandfather this eligibility for an undetermined length of time when we went to a youth fare vs a student one, in late 2011 or early 2012 I believe. “

    • Pamela MacNaughtan

      Marge,

      There are Seniors passes as well as special fares. I can add them into the post for you. Be aware though that this is meant as a base budget, so the itineraries I created are based in economy class (a seat), not in sleeper. That being said there are deals on the Express Deals page for sleeper class if you’re able to travel on a moment’s notice kind of thing.
      I’ll have the Seniors information added for tomorrow.

      Cheers!
      Pamela

  3. Awesome work – we’re buying a Canrailpass for January to get from Halifax to Vancouver (only have 3 weeks, as our flight leaves Van on the 23rd, so will be a whirlwind return trip) I’m gutted to learn that economy doesn’t have access to the Sky Cars though!!! I took the train from Hali to Mtl when I was 16, for the Summer Work Student Exchange program, didn’t sleep a wink either way, but looooved spending most of the trip I’m the skycar! I was really looking forward to that bit!

    • Pamela MacNaughtan

      You DO have access to ONE dome car if you travel in economy class. It’s on The Canadian from Toronto to Vancouver. 😉 But yeah, the panoramic car is for sleeper class only.

  4. Nathan

    Inspiring article. I have done the CanRail Pass as a youth in the winter. It was a really great deal and an inexpensive way to see Canada. I do have some concerns with the itineraries you posted here though. First, none of them are return, so, unless one plans to move across the country with nothing but a suitcase or two, they would have to factor in the cost of airfare to these travel expenses which will turn something seemingly inexpensive into something much more expensive. Second, the Winnipeg-Churchill run, which I was very interested to do, is actually rather challenging in practice with these passes. It eats a lot of time out of the 21 days because it’s two days up, two days down, and if memory serves correctly, it doesn’t turn around and head back for another two days, so you’re looking at a minimum of 6 days out of 21 just to see Churchill. Given how long it takes to get to other parts of the country, stop overs in other cities and having an opportunity to actually see and experience them would be very limited. My itinerary was Vancouver-Ottawa, Ottawa-Montreal, Montreal-Toronto, Toronto-Jasper, Jasper-Prince Rupert (w/ ferry to Port Hardy and then flight back to Vancouver), and that took 21 days, including having a few days at each destination. I should also note that there are many interesting off-train connections and opportunities to consider as well, such as heading from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii, Vancouver Island or Alaska via ferry (BC Ferries or Alaskan Ferries). In Jasper I also took a bus to Banff and spent a day there which was a nice experience as well.

    There’s a few other things to note too, about travel with a youth pass. For instance, only so many seats are allocated for these pass holders, and those spaces overlap with student fares. I got caught in the Quebec-Windsor corridor around Christmas time when all the students are travelling home and filling up those allocated seats. I had to end up buying a regular priced ticket for part of the journey to make it work.

    In sum, it’s a very worthwhile experience, but I feel some of these suggestions are unrealistic as presented.

    • Pamela MacNaughtan

      You’re definitely right about Churchill as one would need a week. The itineraries were merely an idea. Some people like fast-paced travel, so they would work, others like something with more oomph! It’s so tempted to create full-on itineraries, but OMG so much research to do in order to do it right.

      For flights, yes, those are extra. Most people travel one way by train, then fly. It’s one of those things were you look for the seat sales and jump. I flew from Vancouver to Ottawa after my trip for only $300!!

  5. I remember watching a special on the Travel Channel with my mom when I was really young. The show featured Jasper and trains! Ever since then I’ve wanted to take a train across Canada-it looks sooo beautiful and like a really unique experience. If the day ever comes when I can take this trip I’ll remember to come back to this post! It’s FULL of great info! 🙂

    • Pamela MacNaughtan

      Thanks, chica! Do it! Just be flexible with your schedule so you can snatch up an Express Deal when it’s super low.

  6. Hi, Pam. Love rail travel and love this post! I can only imagine the kind of time, effort, and work you put into this post. I think I mentioned while you were here in Vancouver that I’d always thought about flying to Halifax, have a walkabout through some of the Maritimes (because I haven’t been east of Quebec City), and then taking the train back. I’m bookmarking this post! Good luck and best wishes to you in Ottawa and with your projects!

  7. Marjorie

    This a wonderful post about via travel. So I’m very interested it you are able to give my some information on how I could plan a trip by train to Dawson City YT. I would like to know what would be closet I could get to Dawson by train with sleeper. Thanks

      • Marjorie

        I live in Windsor but would be traveling from Toronto, and I do want to travel the sleeper plus, I want the works:) I’m planning on being away for a month, and spending a week or so with my daughter in the Dawson Yukon. Thanks for your reply.

        • Marjorie

          I live in Windsor but would be traveling from Toronto, and I do want to travel the sleeper plus, I want the works:) I’m planning on being away for a month, and spending a week or so with my daughter in the Dawson Yukon. Thanks for your reply.

  8. Ang

    I’m wanting to travel from Saskatchewan to Toronto about the middle of December. 2 Adults and a 3.5 year old. I have been looking at sleeper class options, but they are quite pricey. But I would imagine they would be a better option than economy. Especially for other passengers if our toddler gets restless! lol I understand via periodically offers 50% off and children travel free deals. Just wondering if you know if those would be offered for December travel, and if so, when they usually advertise for sales in December. Also, as an alternative to travelling economy or in a sleeper class the entire trip, could we book economy of part of the trip, then sleeper for another part?

  9. Dinos

    Very interesting and helpful article!
    My wife and me are immigrating to Canada in May, and we are thinking of taking the VIA rail to go from Montreal to Toronto.
    I can understand the differences between the Business and Economy classes,but what is the difference between the normal and Plus category in these classes? Meaning what is the difference between Economy – Economy Plus and Business – Business plus? Even if Business is considered higher class, the normal Business fare is cheaper to the economy plus one…too Greek for me, even if I’m Greek also!lol

  10. Nina

    Does anyone know how I can then book my ticket once I have a Canrail Pass? I doubt that I can just board the train…. Please help!! 🙂 Thanks!!

    • Hi Nina,
      You can book your tickets online at via.ca. This is what you do: On the “Passengers Information” screen, select Rail pass as the “Discount Type” and enter the 13-digit serial number of your Canrailpass – System in the “Serial Number” field.

      Happy travels!
      Pamela xo

  11. louise pop

    Thanks for all the info. I just wantto go across from Seattle (or Vancouver) to Chicago andthey said the Empire Builder experiences very long delays. So I am looking at Canadian Via rail. But what is the scoop? How much for Senior economyi cheapskate? and can I get off before getting to Toronto? and head down to Chicago? :HELP I am very frustrated trying to circle the USA by rail alone.

  12. Linda

    Wonderful information. I’ve had a cross Canada train trip on my bucket list for years. Thank you for all your research. I am mobility challenged – I can walk on my own but have some trouble with stairs. I would be traveling in a “cabin for 1” and my concern is if it would be hard to get into the bed (as in too high for me with my short legs!). I have one other concern about getting in and out during the night to use the car’s bathroom and then in the morning having to lift the bed. I would be taking this trip just prior to hernia surgery. Thanks for any info you can provide.

    • Hi Linda,
      The beds in the ‘cabin for 1’ are low. Each car has its own attendant who is responsible for getting the beds ready each night and putting them away each morning, so you should be fine. The bathroom in each car is easy to get to, but when the train is in motion you’ll need to keep your hands on the walls to stay steady. Have an amazing trip!

  13. Sylvain

    Hi Pam,

    Thanks for this great post. I plan to travel with rail between Churchill and Winnipeg. Can I book additional seat to have more space to sleep? (I meen 4 seats for 3 peoples)

    Best
    Sylvain
    Switzerland

    • Hi Sylvain,
      You can probably ask to sit as a family as the 4-seats are reserved for families before being sold to single travellers. The train ride is long, about 2 days. Bring food. Seriously. Also, this is a local route for people who live north of Winnipeg, so the passenger cars will most likely have a constant flow of people. The scenery is beautiful though, and Churchill is incredible in terms of wildlife.

      Pamela

  14. Aitch

    Hi Pamela
    I’m thinking of taking the
    Vancouver to Toronto train in Jan, wanted to ask, if the Economy is comfortable enough for 4 days or best to get a one person berth?
    and whats the difference in the Economy and Economy Plus?:
    Their website gives no information on berths etc.
    Thanks
    Aitch

    • Aitch,

      Economy is definitely comfortable, but a one person berth will give you privacy and include all your meals on the train – which are absolutely delicious! The difference between Economy and Economy Plus is mostly in the flexibility of the actual ticket etc. The seats are the same; there is no Economy Plus car on the train.

      Hope this helps!

      Pamela

  15. Scott Beange

    Is there a high and low season reflected in prices? And is so what are the dates?

    Thanks,

    Scott

  16. Man i would love to travel across a few countries with trains .. but got to decide witch is the best one to do first on a budget the surly falls under my top 5 . thanks for the great info post very detailed .

  17. Canada’s rail network is under appreciated … per kilometre traveled, the amount you pay is a great deal!

  18. James

    Hi, I have a question regarding the Canadian. I am based in Toronto and would like to travel west to see the Rockies.

    Assuming I want to do a return rail trip (ie there and back), is it “necessary” to travel all the way to Vancouver or will a turnaround in Jasper be good enough?

    Thanks in advance for your advice!

    • It’s up to you. The best scenery is from just before Jasper to a little after. There is gorgeous scenery in British Columbia, but you’ll pass most of it during the night, so it’s really what you prefer. For me, the mountains are like my home, so even if I’m riding through BC at night, I still want to be there. Plus, there is some amazing star gazing!

  19. Sam

    I’m looking at travelling quite a bit cross country for my business and all within a two month span. The canrail pass I perfect since it’s available for 60 days of travel. One quick note is that express deals are no longer available. Now to see if economy will wok for lot of travel. One thing I found amazing was how much baggage you can bring with you, it will save me a ton on shipping my stuff ahead thanks for the great post.

  20. Jenni

    Hi Pamela, Thanks so much for the information. I’ve been looking into how to get my family of 5 into sleepers from Vancouver to Jasper… can’t be done it seems as there are only 2 berth sleepers and I’ll be leaving 1 child alone in a sleeper. Any suggestions? Thanks

    • Hi Jenni,

      If you want a closed cabin then they have 2-3 berth cabins. However they do have sleeper berths in a group which are converted to benches in the day. At night there are six berths in each car — they are generally near the bathroom which is nice.

  21. Linda

    I’m looking at going on the via train in a couple of years time, I have three children 12-13 and me and my partner but I’m un sure if the kids could have a room on there own or if me and my partner would have to be in a room with them as obviously we would have to split as the max is 3 in a room, on most trains! Do you have any knowledge on this for me please.

    • How fun! The cabins have a divider type wall, I believe if you’re travelling as a family you might be able to request two cabins together and have the wall between the two cabins removed. They may allow the kids in their own room if that is preferable.

  22. Karen Peters

    Hello Pamela, I’m planning to travel from Toronto to Halifax and want to book my ticket online, however, there is not an option for ‘cabin for 1’ only cabins for 2+ Does that mean I have to contact VIA directly to book my trip?

  23. Thank you for this detailed write-up. Would you know how long in advance express deals are offered? And are there block out months? Am looking at December but no deals have opened up for the month. Thanks

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