VIA’s Luxury Canadian: Booking to start soon

28 Sep

Editor’s Note (April 2012): The new Deluxe Class on VIA Rail’s Canadian has been delayed, and is now expected to come on board in 2013.  Stay tuned to this blog for updates.

Sunrise on the Canadian

Sunrise on the Canadian. IRT Photo by Bruce Anderson

VIA Rail Canada’s “New Canadian” makes its debut next summer on its tri- weekly Toronto-Vancouver run. VIA has invested $22 million for a total renovation of sleeping cars into what VIA describes as a luxury boutique hotel-on-wheels branded as “Deluxe Sleeper Class.”

These all-bedroom cars will have only six rooms per car, each with en-suite bathroom including private shower, larger windows, and a flat-screen TV. Improvements also include a double bed, leather sofa, and refrigerator along with upgraded linens and amenities.

Deluxe Sleeper Class

VIA's new Deluxe Sleeper Class. Photo/VIA Rail Canada

Passengers also will enjoy priority boarding from dedicated lounges in Toronto and Vancouver, priority luggage handling, a specially assigned attendant and turn-down service, and priority dining car reservations along with all-day room service. Breakfast and afternoon are served in your compartment. Another unique perk: a personal introduction to the train engineer.

In addition to adding the Deluxe Sleeper Class cars,  VIA has upgraded the décor of its traditional Pullman-style sleeping accommodations. And all Deluxe and Touring Class passengers will continue to have access to the renovated diners, Skyline Dome and Park Observation cars. (Renovated Park Cars also will be offering a handicapped accessible bedroom for the first time.)

Gourmet meals aboard Via's Canadian

Gourmet meals aboard VIA Canadian. Photo/VIA Rail Canada

Tickets for Deluxe Sleeper Class can be booked very soon –– VIA agents said the booking starts tomorrow for journeys in this new class starting June, 2012 and going through mid-September. Fares have yet to be published but are said to cost several thousand more per person than the current Sleeper  Touring Class.  Pricing has not been publicly released. For budget-minded travelers, “Comfort Class” — basically coach — is still available, although utilized mostly by local passengers going to or from intermediate stops in route.

With domes no longer in regular Amtrak service, it’s good to know that these unique creations can still be enjoyed three days a week just north of the border in a 1950’s classic American streamliner — but now updated to 21st-Century standards.

The Canadian has been plying the rails between Toronto and Vancouver since it was first introduced by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1955.

Consistently named one of the “World’s Top 25 Trains” by the Society of International Railway Travelers, this classic Budd-built streamliner remains a throwback to what North American passenger trains were all about, including its art deco lounges and diner, traditional Pullman-style roomettes, bedrooms, and drawing room. It even retains some traditional sections, with privacy provided by a flimsy curtain (think Marilyn Monroe in “Some Like it Hot.”)

Editors note: Car descriptions are based on VIA publicity and have not been personally reviewed, as they are not yet in service. IRT plans to see the new equipment as soon as possible and to sample the new service as soon as it begins next summer. Let us know: is the new deluxe sleeper class something you’ll want to book?

8 Responses to “VIA’s Luxury Canadian: Booking to start soon”

  1. Garth Stevenson September 28, 2011 at 4:33 PM #

    The flat screen TV will be appreciated during the interminable journey through the moose pastures between Capreol and Jasper at 33 miles per hour. If you have that kind of money to spend, better to take the Royal Canadian Pacific or the Rocky Mountaineer. Via’s Canadian is a fraud, since it follows a completely different route from the original Canadian–as well as taking eighteen hours longer.

  2. Bruce Anderson September 28, 2011 at 4:50 PM #

    Hey Garth; True the train is on a different and much less scenic route. And the Royal Canadian Pacific is wonderful…but runs very infrequently. And of course the Canadian’s speed is much higher than 33MPH. That is the average speed taking into account the excessive dwell times which are largely so the train can stay somewhat on schedule during the harsh winter conditions it operates. While the open platforms of the RCP are nice, there is nothing better than a front seat in the Park Car dome. As for the Rocky Mountaineer, great if you want to sit up all day in one designated seat and bus to a hotel in the middle of the trip. It also doesn’t help you get to a hockey game in Winnipeg in the middle of the winter! The Canadian is and remains general transportation, something the other two don’t pretend to be.

    • Garth Stevenson October 5, 2011 at 11:22 AM #

      Bruce, I respectfully disagree. The winters were just as harsh in the 1950s and 1960s, when both CN and CP managed a three night schedule from Montreal or Toronto to Vancouver. And I don’t think an overpriced train that runs only three times a week can be considered “general transportation”. The last time I rode the Via Rail transcontinental in April 2006 I think I was the only Canadian passenger on board. All the others were Americans, Australians, Europeans or Brits. I asked the dining car steward if this was typical and he said it was. This is a tourist train, not general transportation.

      • Bruce Anderson October 7, 2011 at 8:44 AM #

        Hi Garth. You must never take a walk up to the coach section. Thats about a general as it gets stopping at tiny little places along the way with someone turning up in a snowmobile to pick up a passenger.  Something you don’t get on either of the other trains you mentioned.

        Bruce

  3. Michael Hyde October 5, 2011 at 10:39 AM #

    I travel the world on rail based holidays and I have to say ‘The Canadian’ is one of my top favourites anywhere. The pace does not bother me in fact I enjoy every minute of the westwards journey. You have time to grab a drink or a snack and not miss anything en route. Besides it was the railway that made Canada and covering the territory is part of the real world. I would love to try the new layout but at what price. However the current service is fine for me. Give me the dome cars everytime. Mike Hyde UK.

    • Garth Stevenson October 5, 2011 at 11:25 AM #

      Yes, the railway made Canada, especially the CPR, which this is not. Via’s advertising implies that their misnamed “Canadian” travels over the original transcontinental route that opened in 1885 but it does not. It is Canadian National all the way. It really should be called the Continental Limited, which was the name of a train that Canadian National ran on a similar schedule in the last years of steam.

      • Steve December 21, 2011 at 12:07 AM #

        Being from the other side of the planet, and planning on travelling on the Canadian in June, I fall into the non-Canadian traveller category. I do however have the belief that the Canadian Pacific lauched the train as The Canadian in the mid ’50s. The fanfare was over the Budd equipment and this is what wears the name The Canadian. To me, the train is still The Canadian, not the route. Yes, I’d like to ride the CP route, but I prefer to ride the Canadian, not the Rocky Mountaineer.
        Cheers
        Steve
        NZ

  4. Robin Wright January 21, 2013 at 6:49 AM #

    The Canadian IS transportation, for me and my friends at least. We took it from Vancouver to Edmonton late last year to see Sir Paul McCartney in concert there. What a trip ! And my son would LOVE to go snowboarding in Revelstoke, but the private, pricey, Rocky Mountaineer a) does not operate in the winter months (isnt that great ?) and b), when it does operate, will not let any passengers on or off in Revelstoke, a crew change spot. Sorry Garth, VIA’s Canadian serves more of the “everyman” transportation-wise, than ANY private service !

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