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“Avoid Via rail at all cost: rude staff, old trains and bad food”
Review of VIA Rail Canada

VIA Rail Canada
Ranked #1,019 of 3,245 Tours in Canada
Type: Rail Tours, Tours
Attraction details
Reviewed 18 January 2012

Via Rail is a complete riopoff. I was a frequent (weekly) Via Rail business class traveller for years and only have compliments for the staff and service on board this service. However, I travelled first class on the sleeper trains with 3 friends between Halifax and Vancouver and can only say that we were all relieved when the trip finally ENDED; the only positive segment having been the business class between Montreal and Toronto. Every mile between Halifax and Montreal and between Toronto and Vancouver was awful. Just think: One shower for 30 passengers (no, you don't have your own shower, you have to line up in the hallway in your bathrobe), room doors that don't lock, no cellphone or Wi-Fi (even in the stations), train Managers who literally refuse to meet passengers with questions or concerns, staff that openly radio-invite each other to parties in staterooms while other passengers wait for days (yes DAYS) for a room that they have reservations for, "wine and cheese receptions" where the only cheese offered is a block of cheddar, cubed and piled onto a plate and left in the dome car while an employee explains that "...tanin is added to wine to give it flavour...", bedrooms so small that a person sitting on the edge of the bed can very easily touch all four walls with hands, without stretching, toilets so small that it is nearly impossible to close the door while inside them and so noisy that flushing is a definite problem at night, broken beds, cloudy windows, food that most people on board qualified as "un-edible", daily menus that are announced by staff screaming out loud at the front of the dining car (yes, the menu is really yelled out loud, not at all pleasant for those sitting nearby), dinning cars where the first eight seats are officially reserved for staff while passengers wait for an hour to be seated, dome cars where garbage is allowed to pile up for days under seats while on-board staff claim that it's not their job to clean up, staff that openly complain about their work schedules while explaining that their jobs aren't bad because they "...just have to ride the train for 3 days to get a full week's pay and are not even obligated to speak to the passengers or anything...", staff that announce that there are hundreds of (immigrant) railway workers burried under the Victoria Bridge in Montreal (??!!!??) and that St-Laurent is the city's best place to buy a wedding dress (??!!??!) and on and on. The passenger trains are old (built in the 1950's), noisy even when stopped, uncomfortable and according to other passengers who have travelled trains in other countries a complete ripoff regardless of price. I rode for free on points and found that I was ripped off, I can imagine that paying up to $5,000 per ticket, these people were really pissed. What a Canadian sham, Vial Rail promotes quality and provides a substandard product and service. Via Rail would not even provide a bagage transfer service from one train to another, every passenger had to retreive all their luggage (in their room and in the baggage car) in Montreal and Toronto, drag them to the next train and re-check them all over! I wrote Via Rail about this experience, twice, and nobody even contacted me to discuss; the mark on an organisation that is truly disconnected from their client base.

27  Thank worryfreetravel_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"business class"
in 201 reviews
"dome car"
in 143 reviews
"dining car"
in 180 reviews
"first class"
in 79 reviews
"union station"
in 80 reviews
"train trip"
in 76 reviews
"rocky mountaineer"
in 69 reviews
"prestige class"
in 61 reviews
"prince rupert"
in 61 reviews
"bunk beds"
in 54 reviews
"sleeper class"
in 51 reviews
"quebec city"
in 79 reviews
"return trip"
in 55 reviews
"sleeper cabin"
in 49 reviews
"lunch and dinner"
in 43 reviews
"top bunk"
in 35 reviews
"train staff"
in 37 reviews

1,443 - 1,447 of 1,584 reviews

Reviewed 18 January 2012

Took the train to Quebec from Toronto. I traveled alone. The ride was very comfortable. The price was very comfortable too. Taking a little breather from home and taking to slopes!

2  Thank Dunnvillygirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 January 2012

We joined the Via Rail train in Vancouver, and immediately made friends at the station waiting for the train to be loaded. A lot of the travellers were "frequent flyers" and just loved trains. The staff were fantastic and tried to do everything to make this a great experience. This trip should not be compared with the Rocky Mountaineer, as it is a different experience, but the staff do compare. The rolling stock is not of the same calibre, but is comfortable, and more traditional. We loved our trip from Vancouver to Jasper, but the double sleepers are a little bit of a challanger, if you are over 60.

7  Thank Bernard M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 January 2012

We did two separate trains for our 2 week holiday out West - the first was Vancouver-Jasper. We stayed in Lake Louise for 4 days & then did the train from Jasper-Toronto.

The scenery on the first train was breathtaking with many mountains, glaciers, and lakes. At times, we slowed down to take a look at something special such as Mt. Robson & the train staff pointed out interesting landmarks.

The scenery on the second train though was pretty boring after the first couple of hours when you're out of the mountain range & in bush country. In retrospect, I think that autumn, with all of its wonderful colors would have been a better time to travel this segment.

Staying on the train for several days is not for the claustrophobic. We had a cabin for two which had it's own private toilet which resembled the kind you see in airplanes. It felt pretty cramped especially at night when the bunk beds were set up & you're trying to get ready for bed. It was comfortable though, & we did sleep well. The corridors were very narrow & at times, it could get quite bumpy as the cars swayed on the tracks.

Tip for the claustrophobia: After suffering this big time on the first train, especially when trying to sleep, we bought one of those liquid, plug in air fresheners for our cabin - it really helped & together with the fan at full blast, I was fine.

Although our beds got stowed in the daytime & we had 2 big, roomy chairs, we spent our time in the observations decks for the best views.

The food was variable depending on the crew since staff got changed at different points of the journey. You got 3 main meals plus there was always, snacks consisting of fruit, muffins, cookies, non-alcoholic drinks all tthe time. There are set meal times & you should reserve your preferred meal time as soon as you can otherwise you'll get stuck with either eating too early/late.

Also, if you're just traveling by yourself or as a couple, you'll find that you'll be seated with other travelers. This was quite nice as you get to meet people from all over the world & at the end of the trip you feel like you bonded into a little community.

As you're using the CN tracks, the Jasper-Toronto route does not take you to the classic flat prairie, except right outside Winnipeg & does not go along the Lake Superior shore. The Ontario segment is very monotonous.

There are activity coordinators that organize various informative & fun events to pass away the time including, beer & wine tastings, games, and movies. If you're lucky, you'll get a person who will also give talks about the various areas you're going through which we thought added to our experience.

There were a few stopovers which consisted of 10 minutes to 3 hours (Winnipeg).

Overall, it was a lovely experience and one that everyone should try.

One final tip, you get amazing deals by going online to the via rail site - we saved about 75% of the going rate for both trips.

9  Thank Kai-HT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 8 January 2012

Won a trip to Montreal which included 2 Via Rail round trip tickets from Toronto to Montreal. The trains both there and return were on time. The ride itself seemed long, but sure beat driving! The attendant was friendlyand helpul. We were not in business class so not a lot of room to stretch our legs.

2  Thank cindy l
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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