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Canada VIA Rail > Trip Planning

Tips for booking, boarding and riding VIA Rail Canada

Pacific Central Station, Vancouver, British Columbia

Rail is a green, easy, low-cost travel alternative to hundreds of Canadian destinations. Shown: Pacific Central Station, Vancouver, British Columbia. Photo: Nkocharh.

This VIA Rail Canada planning and travel update features details on how to make the most of your Canadian rail journey. From travel classes to VIA rail passes and from onboard meals to all-aboard deals, if you're looking for details on VIA Rail savings, comfort and convenience... you've come to the right page!

Classes of Travel

VIA Rail Economy class seating is available on all trains. Business class travel, available on most Windsor-Québec City corridor trains, includes in-station Panorma Lounge access, priority boarding, and complimentary onboard meal with wine. Sleeper class travel (single-occupancy berth or cabin accomodating one to four travelers) is available on Winnipeg-Churchill, Montréal-Gaspè and "The Ocean" Montréal-Halifax trains. Sleeper Touring class (berth or cabin, complimentary meals and snacks, exclusive Park Car dome access) is available on "The Ocean" Montréal-Halifax (mid June to mid October only), and "The Canadian" Toronto-Vacouver trains. Suite package upgrade available on Toronto-Vancouver only. Touring class travel (Complimentary meals, exclusive dome car access) available on Jasper-Prince Rupert (June to mid September only). Jasper-Prince Rupert passengers must arrange independent overnight accommodations for Prince George layover.

Buying VIA Rail Tickets

For the best fare its smart to book early, be flexible with travel schedule and avoid peak travel times. To compare compare fares, buy tickets and obtain VIA Rail Canada information about traveling by train in Canada visit the VIA Rail website. Reservations may also be made at VIA ticket counters, by phone or at Ticket Express self-service ticketing kiosks (selected stations). Canadian and US residents are eligible to participate in VIA Prèfèrence, a complimentary program that awards points for VIA travel. Points are redeemable for discount travel, airline-miles, gift certificates and more.

Special Fare Discounts

Year-round discounts are available to a variety of VIA Rail travelers. Tots, ages 0-24 months, travel free when sharing a seat with an adult. Economy class travel is half-price for Children, ages 2-11. Youth, ages 12-25, are entitled to discounted fares on Economy, Sleeper, and Sleeper Plus class travel. Senior travelers, ages 60 and up, are entitled to discounts on all Economy class fares. Groups of 10 or more travelers save on Economy fares for most routes. Limited-time Express Deals on selected fares are updated regularly. For extended travel involving multiple trips, see Rail Pass Travel Savings, below.

Rail Pass Options

VIA Rail Canada offers several rail pass options. VIA Rail Canrailpass offers travel anywhere in Canada for seven one-way trips within a 21-day period. VIA Rail Corridor Canrailpass is valid for seven one-way trips within a ten-day period between Québec City, Québec and Windsor Ontario (including Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, Kingston, Niagara Falls, Kitchener, Stratford, London, Sarnia and all intermediate stations). BizPak and VIA 6 Pak offer discounts on multiple round-trips between any two cities served by VIA Rail. Passes must be purchased at least three days prior to date of first trip.

Train Station Services

VIA Rail Canada stations range from wilderness clearings not accessible by car to sprawling downtown complexes housing numerous VIA Rail passenger services including ticketing and baggage transfer, intermodel connections, ATMs, restrooms and more. While advance ticketing is advised, many larger stations staff ticket counters and house Ticket Express self-service ticketing kiosks. Exclusive to Business class passengers are Panorama Lounges in Québec City, Montréal, Dorval, Ottawa, Toronto, Kingston and London. Complimentary WiFi access is available in all Panorama Lounges and selected stations including Edmonton, Halifax, Jasper, Moncton, Vancouver and Winnipeg.

Food and Beverages

Meals, snacks, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are available for purchase on all trains except Victoria-Courtenay, Toronto-Niagara Falls and Sudbury-White River. Business class passengers enjoy complimentary full-course dining -- bar and wine selections included -- on most Windsor-Québec City Corridor trains. Complimentary full meal service is provided for Sleeper Touring class on "The Canadian" Toronto-Vancouver and "The Ocean" Montréal-Halifax trains; and for Touring Class on the Jasper-Prince Rupert train. Availability of alcohol is subject to Provincial laws. Kids's meals are available in Business class on most Corridor trains; and for Sleeper Touring class on Toronto-Vancouver and Montréal-Halifax trains. Availabity of Kosher and other special meals varies and must generally be requested well in advance. Special needs passengers may request in-room or at-seat tray meals.

Amenities and Perks

Business and Sleeper Touring class passengers have access to personal power outlets. All trains welcome cell phones (limited coverage in some remote areas). Wireless internet access is available aboard most trains, in many Corridor stations and in Panorama Lounges. Children's activities are available on Toronto-Vancouver, Jasper-Prince Rupert, Montréal-Halifax, MontréGaspé and most Windsor-Québec City Corridor trains. Movies, TV shows and music can be downloaded from the onboard iTunes Entetainment Station.

Baggage and Pets

Most trains allow one or two carry-on pieces and three checked pieces of luggage per traveler at no charge. Passengers are permitted either two standard (54.5x39.5x23 cm / 21.5x15.5x9 in) carry-on pieces (maximum:11.5 kg / 25 lb); or one large (69x53.5x35.5 cm /27x21x14 in) carry-on piece (maximum: 18 kg /40 lb). Checked pieces must not exceed 23 kg / 50 lb or 158 linear cm / 62 linear in each. Acceptance of checked luggage is limited on Jasper-Prince Rupert, Toronto-Windsor and Montréal-Gaspé trains. All bags must be tagged. Checked luggage is not accepted on Victoria-Courtenay, Toronto-Niagara Falls, Toronto-Ottawa, Toronto-Sarnia, Ottawa-Montréal, Montréal-Québec City trains. Fees are charged for the transport of sleds, kayaks, sailboards, dog sleighs, bicycles, child-carriers, household pets and excess, heavy or oversized baggage (no charge for skis). Dangerous, fragile, valuable, oversized and overweight items are prohibited. Baggage should be checked at least 60-minutes prior to departure.

Rail Travel for Children

Childen aged 7 or under must by accompanied by an adult when traveling aboard VIA trains. Children ages 8-11 may travel unaccompanied in some instances providing certain conditions are met including the approval of a travel waiver ($15CDN processing fee). Children ages 12 and older may travel unaccompanied. For details about train travel discounts for children, see Special Fare Discounts, above.

Special Needs Assistance

VIA Rail strives to assure accessible travel for individuals whose eyesight, hearing, mobility or learning capacity is impaired. Special provisions usually available include advance-boarding, priority seating, special request stops and assistance with boarding, detraining and baggage. Escorts meeting certified needs for assistance and certified service animals are entitled to free travel. Arrange for special needs (at least 48 hours in advance) at any VIA ticket counter or by phone (Canada and US only) at 1.888.VIA.RAIL; TTY, for hearing and speech-impaired individuals, at 1.800.268.9503.

Border Crossing by Rail

When reserving tickets, passengers crossing the Canadian/US Border must state date of birth, gender, country of citizenship, and type of ID to be carried. Valid ID for US and Canadian citizens, ages 16 and over, includes Passport, Passport card (US), Trusted Traveler card and Enhanced driver's license. Alternative recognized ID is valid for official travel by US Merchant Mariner and Military personnel, and for travel by Native Americans. US and Canadian citizens under 16 may also present a certified embossed birth certificate or other recognized document . Children, age 14 and under, may not cross the border alone. Children under 18, not crossing the border with both parents, must carry a notarized letter of permission signed by any parent or guardian not present. Passports are required for citizens of other countries as are visas in many instances. Citizens of other countries are required to enroll in the US-VISIT program (`$6USD fee) when entering the US for the first time. Complete border crossing information is available online: for entering Canada, check out canadainternational.gc.ca; for entering the US, go to travel.state.gov

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