All aboard for Canada 150! Canada's 2017 birthday bash is a year long celebration and VIA Rail is going the distance from coast to coast to coast. VIA's modern passenger rail network spans the nation from the Rockies and the Pacific to the Atlantic Maritimes to the Far North. Scheduled stops connect hundreds of cities and towns, and countless unmarked stops open up wilderness outposts. Seamless international connections make Amtrak's U.S. passenger rail network easily accessible.
In fact, Canada's rail heritage goes back several decades before the country's founding in 1867. The Grand Trunk Railway, precursor to VIA Rail's modern Windsor - Québec City Corridor was largely in place by 1860 and the need to extend the rails to British Columbia and the Maritimes in part led to Canada's formation.
The Corridor is the heart of VIA Rail's network. Along with spectacular views of city skylines, Lake Ontario, and the Saint Lawrence River Valley, Corridor trains provide fast, frequent connections between Canada's two largest cities and the national capital. Travel times between Toronto's Union Station, Ottawa Station, and Montréal's Gare Centrale frequently meet or beat highway travel times. Other major stops along the way include London, and Dorval International Airport. Most Corridor trains feature cafe/bar cars and onboard WiFi, plus Business Class perks like free at-seat meal and beverage service.
VIA Rail goes beyond the Corridor with two world-class transcontinental routes. Best known is the Canadian which tracks a landmark western course from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Coast. The Canadian's Toronto-to-Vancouver route crosses Prairie Provinces and the Canadian Rockies on its 4466 km (2775 mi) journey which takes in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Edmonton and Jasper, Alberta. Eastward, the Ocean's Montréal-Halifax route makes headway along the Saint Lawrence River's mighty tidal estuary and across the Maritimes. Québec City and Moncton are destinations along the way. Transcontinental train amenities vary but both trains feature restaurant-style dining cars, panoramic dome cars, and sleeper cabins.
Beyond Corridor and transcontinental services, VIA Rail Canada operates an array of long-distance trains to popular and farflung regions and destinations. Most famous among them is Manitoba's Hudson Bay run from Winnipeg to Churchill — the Polar Bear Capital of the World*. A side track out of The Pas connects with Cree Nation lands at Putawagen. From Jasper, Alberta, VIA Rail's Skeena River route to Prince Rupert offers a northern alternative to the Canadian's Vancouver-bound leg to the Pacific.
Back east, a trio of remote routes connect outdoors lovers with the boreal forests and Great Lakes headwaters of Canada's southern shield. Picturesque resort hamlets, wilderness lodges, and First Nations settlements scatter along the Lake Superior region Sudbury-White River route and along Montréal's Sennterre line to Val d'or and Jonquire route to Lac-Saint-Jean and the Saneguay Glacier region.
VIA Rail Canada jointly operates three seamless international services with its U.S. counterpart, Amtrak. Most popular among Canadians is the Maple Leaf Toronto-New York City run which stops at Niagara Falls before continuing across the border. Other border-crossing routes, operated by Amtrak and VIA Rail, include Adirondack service between Montréal and New York City and Amtrak Cascades service linking Vancouver, British Columbia with Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon.
Onboard amenities and station services differ by route, however several features are common across the network. Cafe/lounge cars and at-seat meal/beverage services are mostly standard and nearly all long-distance trains feature dining cars and/or observation dome cars. WiFi is available on all Corridor trains and in selected stations. Checked baggage and wheelchair access vary by route.
Economy Class seating is offered on all trains and kids' discounts are always available. Business Class Corridor and Sleeper Class long-distance options are usually available. Larger stations feature Panorama Lounges for premium class travelers. VIA Rail offers a variety of year-round discounts and passes. Ticket counters and automated kiosks are found at selected stations. For advance travel planning and booking, visit viarail.com, download VIA Rail's mobile app, or phone +1 (888) 842-7245 (TTY +1 (800) 842-7245).
*Due to extensive flooding, VIA Rail service between Gillam and Churchill, Manitoba is suspended until further notice.