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Thursday 11 August 2022

When in Canada, take the train

My disenchantment with the incompetent buffoons at Air Canada is well recorded - but there is another transport company in Canada that offers a very good service.

VIA Rail offers fastish, clean and on-time rail services between most of the major cities - and is a boon when your destination is somewhere midway between Montreal and Toronto.

I took trips from Montreal to Kingston and Kingston and Toronto recently and both delivered an excellent experience - albeit not cheap. And I avoided spending more time in the chaos of Montreal's Trudeau Airport and Toronto's almost equally frenetic Pearson Airport.  

Given Australia's dismal inter-city train offerings, going by rail might not be upmost in mind at home, but it is certainly well worth considering for trips in Canada.

If you are planning a visit it is worth getting on the VIA Rail mailing list in advance for offers like 20% discounts for bookings made on a Tuesday.

Via Rail operates over 500 trains per week across eight Canadian provinces and 12,500 kilometres of track, and is largely owned by other railway companies, including Canadian National Rail (CN).

There are a range of fares on offer including discounted escape fares, economy, business and touring, sleeper plus and prestige on long-distance trains.

Food service is available on most trains with snacks, light meals and beverages for purchase. Most of the services also offer complimentary wifi, although it is spotty in my experience. Staff - with a lot of seniors employed - are uniformly chatty and helpful. 

The majority of trains operate in the Ontario and Quebec service corridor between Quebec City and south-western Ontario.

On my list of things to do: the Maple Leaf operates between New York City and Toronto via Albany, Buffalo and Niagara Falls. It is jointly managed by VIA Rail and Amtrak.

Starting in this year, VIA Rail has begun deployment of a new generation of trains on the Quebec City-Windsor corridor.

For details visit but be aware the website doesn't like processing Australian credit cards.



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