Journeys on this Train
"Beauty takes no shortcuts." That's the new tag line for the historic Canadian, VIA Rail Canada’s flagship train. It runs between Toronto and Vancouver three times a week, traveling 2,775 miles. IRT recommends Sleeper Plus Class so you can have a private bedroom on board the overnight train and the many perks that come with it—from a special waiting room at the main stations, to priority boarding, “welcome aboard” reception, wine tastings and all delicious meals included. The main delight is exclusive access to the great dome cars for seeing the sites day or night.
VIA Rail was working on a new Deluxe Sleeper Class, but it's still all quiet on the northern front about that. Still no news on this.
Meanwhile, the schedule from Toronto to Jasper allows three nights on board (10 p.m. departure from Toronto, 1:00 p.m. arrival in Jasper.) All the way to Vancouver is four nights (three days, 14 hours and 42 minutes!) Arrival in Vancouver is scheduled for mid-morning.
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IRT recommends at least Sleeper Plus Class at least so you can have a private bedroom on board the overnight train and the many perks that come with it—from a special waiting room at the main stations, to priority boarding, “welcome aboard” reception, wine tastings and all meals included. The trip from Toronto to Jasper calls for three nights on board; all the way to Vancouver is four nights. Here are the sleeping accommodation choices:
Upper or Lower Berth: This is a chair that makes up into a bed that is 5 feet, 10 inches long by about three feet wide. It makes up into a chair by day, facing another chair. The upper bed gets a ladder for climbing up at night. These "sections" have curtains for privacy.
Single bedroom: This is a roomette designed for one person. The room is roughly 24 square feet. During the day, there is a comfortable seat, sink and toilet. At night, the seat folds into a bed that takes up just about all the room and covers the toilet. Shared shower and toilet are down the hall. Many of IRT’s single travelers say this is much too small for them; they don't like their toilet covered up by the bed; they book single use of a double instead.
Double: A double bedroom is 35.25 square feet, not including the private ensuite toilet and sink. Each bedroom features two armchairs that collapse at night to make way for the two bunks (one upper/one lower), a small closet, fan, electrical outlet and mirror. A small table can be set up for you upon request. The shower is down the hall. Our most recent travelers on this train in general loved it -- but managing the ladder at night to get down to the bathroom was a challenge.
Triples: Note these are few and far between, and thus hard to get, and more expensive. They are about 70 square feet, and are the only accommodations on board where travelers can have two lower beds. The room is designed for three people, so it also has one twin bunk bed. Bedding turns into one sofa and two chairs during the day. You may ask the staff to bring you a small table if you choose during the day. It too has private sink and toilet; the shower is down the hall, except in the Park Car (see below). During very busy months of the year, there are four triples; other months, just one, and it is located in the famous Park Car.
A number of IRT travelers love to travel in one of the few bedrooms in the Park Car: there are one triple and three doubles. Book very early for one of these.
Suite: This is made when the staff takes down the wall between two doubles and puts a filler bedding between the two twin lower beds. Highly recommended for honeymoons, this one thus has a queen-size bed, two "his and her" bathrooms, champagne nightly, chocolates nightly, and breakfast served in bed! These are very limited. The cost including tax in peak time from Toronto to Vancouver is about $9,500 for two persons.
You can also get this suite and use it for four persons -- with four twin-sized beds, two up and two down. If two people used the cabin for 4 in prime time, it is about $4,881 including tax during the peak season. If four use it, it is $6,500 including tax. All the Sleeper Plus Class inclusions apply.
All meals are included when you book sleeping accommodations on board the Canadian. For dinner, there are three seatings, served with china, silver and linen and featuring Canadian wines. Our recent travelers thought the meals were excellent and the service friendly and professional.
Sleeper guests have exclusive use of the signature domed Park Car and the other dome cars. It is indeed memorable to enjoy an after-dinner drink watching the stars.
This extremely versatile train will even stop just about anywhere you want between Sudbury and Winnipeg, a great boon for adventure lovers. You can connect to other scenic rail adventures, such as to the Hudson Bay, which runs Winnipeg-Churchill, to see the polar bears, and to the Skeena to see the wild landscape of the northern British Columbia, Jasper-Prince Rupert on the coast, via Prince George. Take it in the winter for a “snow train” experience. Or, combine it with the Rocky Mountaineer for a deluxe journey across Canada.
Note there is no smoking on board. We highly recommend that you check most of your baggage. You can bring a maximum of 2 carry-on bags into your room, but we recommend limiting it to one. Note traditional gratuities to train staff are not included in the cost of the ticket. Alcohol in the bar is additional.