VIA Rail Canada: The Canadian Travel Experience
Source Link: Canada.com
You would think that with the high cost of air travel that people would be flocking to trains as an alternative, but judging from the discounts that you can get for train travel these days then they must be having problems of their own.
VIA rail is offering 50 per cent off its regular peak fares for one-way trips on its Toronto-Jasper-Vancouver, Montreal-Halifax and Montreal-Gaspé routes. The deal applies to both economy and sleeper class tickets.
Here are some sample prices: one way from Toronto to Vancouver, $662 in an upper berth; Vancouver to Jasper, $447 plus tax per person for double occupancy. Travel must be finished by May 31 for these two trips.
One-way eastern routes include Montreal to Halifax for $187, or Montreal to Gaspe, $164.50, taxes not included. You can get more details at viarail.ca, or call 888-VIA-RAIL.
Rocky Mountaineer, which offers four spectacular rail routes through British Columbia and Alberta, is offering up to $2,400 worth of add-ons to entice passengers to climb aboard their trains. Their bonus is offered per couple to apply to airfare, meals, accommodation, sight-seeing tours and more when booking a minimum five-night rail vacation until March 31, 2009.
To receive the maximum $2,400 bonus, passengers must book the six-night/seven-day Classic Rail Circle package for travel between June 2 and September 29 for two adults in GoldLeaf Service with Fairmont Deluxe accommodation. This package features an all-rail journey onboard the Whistler Mountaineer and two Rocky Mountaineer train routes.
The Rocky Mountaineer train offers passengers a two-day, all daylight rail journey through Canada’s West and the Canadian Rockies. The Whistler Mountaineer train offers a daily three-hour journey between North Vancouver and Whistler, B.C.
If you want to know more you can contact Rocky Mountaineer at (800) 665-7245 or visit www.rockymountaineer.com.
Source Link: By Mike De Souza, Canwest News Service canada.com
OTTAWA – The Harper government’s new point man for Montreal has got a high-speed train in his sights.
In a wide-ranging interview, newly appointed Senator Leo Housakos said he would be pushing the high-speed rail option between Quebec City and Windsor onto the government’s agenda.
Housakos, 41, who served for a year on the board of VIA Rail until 2008, said he recognized that Canada was built on its railway system and should use a new train infrastructure project as part of an economic stimulus plan.
“I think this is an opportunity with high-speed rail to take Canada into the 21st century with an infrastructure program that’s environmentally green, that can create tons of jobs, and can really connect this country quickly, especially starting off with the Quebec City-Windsor corridor,” said Housakos, 41, who was among 18 Conservative senators appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in December.
In its latest budget, the Harper government announced it would increase funding to VIA Rail Canada by $407 million to improve service, particularly between Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. But most infrastructure experts have said that the proposal for a full-blown high-speed link would require construction of a new track solely for passenger trains and would likely carry a multibillion-dollar price tag.
“The 21st century is about speed, and I think that (a high-speed rail link) is a project that’s dear to my heart. It’s something that I want to put on the forefront of the agenda.”
The Tory Senator’s comments come nearly a year after the premiers of Quebec and Ontario announced a joint feasibility study for a new high-speed rail project that would cover a territory that is home to about half of the Canadian population. In the House of Commons, an all-party committee led by Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro, from Peterborough, Ont., has also been advocating a new high-speed link for Central Canada.
But Housakos admitted that he still had a lot of work to do in order to convince his government to buy into the plan.
“Unfortunately, in government, you have to appreciate that things move in millimetres and the yardsticks have to go forward,” he said. “So I think the first step is to sensitize all the key players and to just keep at it until it gets done. I don’t think I have a particular target in terms of (whether it would be approved) next year or the year after, but I will definitely do the best that I can to keep it on the floor.”
Housakos said this is just one aspect of his mandate as the Conservative government’s lone representative in Parliament from Montreal where the party has virtually been shut out in elections for the past 20 years.
“Obviously we have a lot of work to do in the greater Montreal area,” said Housakos, who was a Canadian Alliance candidate in the region during the 2000 federal election. “There’s no secret it’s one of the toughest parts of the country for us.”
He said Harper has asked him to engage with Montrealers, cultural groups and communities throughout the city to listen to their concerns and be their voice in the Conservative caucus. He said he hopes that federalists in Montreal will recognize that they have an alternative to the Liberal party and begin to play a “vibrant” role in the Conservative party.
“I think they should never forget that the Liberal party was ready to form a coalition government with a leader who was not worthy to remain leader of the Liberal party,” he said. “But they were willing to make him prime minister of Canada with a knife at the throat from Gilles Duceppe and the Bloc Quebecois supporting that government. I think that’s unacceptable.”
Housakos, a longtime fundraiser for the Conservatives and provincial Action democratique du Quebec parties, said he has always supported an elected and effective Senate and will gladly support legislation to reform Parliament’s upper chamber when it’s introduced by the government, possibly in the coming weeks.
VIA Rail Canada is offering all the fun for half the price this season on three of its most popular tourism services: the Toronto-Jasper-Vancouver Canadian, Montréal-Halifax Ocean and Montréal-Gaspé Chaleur. The discount is valid in both Comfort (Economy) and Sleeper Class services.
Voted by the International Society of Railway Travelers as one of the top 25 trains to experience, VIA’s flagship Canadian is a four-night journey that provides travelers with a glimpse into history itself. From the majestic Rocky Mountains, through the vast expanses of the Canadian Prairies to the Canadian Shield and lake lands of Northern Ontario, travellers can experience all this and more at a savings of 50% off the regular peak fare when you travel no later than May 31, 2009. Tickets must be purchased at least three days prior to departure or by March 31 whichever comes first.
Passengers can experience the entire cross country odyssey or opt for an overnight trip from Vancouver to the town of Jasper, Alberta in the heart of the Rockies. Choose from VIA’s economical Comfort class or let yourself be pampered with Silver & Blue sleeper class. Regional cuisine prepared freshly by an on-board chef and accommodation are included in the price of Silver & Blue class along with access to the train’s 360 degrees panorama dome car.
Prices for a one-way trip on the Canadian between Toronto and Vancouver start at CAD $662 for an upper berth. An overnight journey in a double bedroom from Vancouver to Jasper is available for CAD $447 plus tax, per person for double occupancy.
For travellers looking to experience the charm of Eastern Canada, VIA’s Ocean service between Montreal and Halifax, Nova Scotia and the Chaleur between Montreal and the beautiful Gaspe region of Quebec are just the ticket. And with savings of 50% on trips for travel until June 13, 2009, these are sites worth seeing. Tickets must be purchased at least three days prior to departure or by March 31 whichever comes first.
On VIA Rail’s eastern services, passengers wander through the beautiful towns along the south shore of the St. Lawrence River before descending through the Notre Dame Mountains in the Matapédia Valley. From there, the Chaleur continues to Gaspé while the Ocean travels through New Brunswick en route to Nova Scotia. Passengers can choose from VIA’s Comfort Sleeper or the economical Comfort Class.
Prices for this overnight journey in Comfort Sleeper Class on the Ocean in a standard double bedroom between Montréal and Halifax start at CAD $187 plus tax, per person for double occupancy. One-way travel in Comfort Sleeper Class on the Chaleur between Montréal and Gaspé in a double bedroom is available from CAD $164.50 plus tax, per person. Meals are extra on these two services.
To take advantage of this offer, for more information, or to book a trip on any VIA service customers can visit viarail.ca or call (888) VIA-RAIL. (1 888 842-7245), or TTY 1 800 268-9503 (hearing impaired), or through theirtravel agent.
Only VIA Rail, Canada’s national passenger rail service, offers an original and unique rail experience across Canada’s wondrous landscape for travelers who value the journey as much as the destination.
All VIA Rail Canada rates quoted are per person, not including applicable taxes. Fares (and fare conditions) are subject to change without notice. Some fare plans require advance purchase and are subject to limited-availability. Other conditions may apply.
For further information: Media Contacts: Catherine Kaloutsky, (647) 228-1127, Catherine_kaloutsky@viarail.ca; Malcolm Andrews, (514) 871-6604,
Source Link: By Daniel Drolet, The Ottawa Citizen
Gordon Lightfoot sang about the Canadian railroads for a reason: rail travel is somehow quintessentially Canadian, in many ways a link to the early days of the country.
1. Across Canada by train
The ultimate long-haul journey? Across Canada by train, Toronto to Vancouver on VIA Rail. The trip lasts nearly four days and there are several departures each week; if you want to save money, travel in winter, when prices are discounted. VIA Rail recently changed the schedule to improve dailight viewing in the Rockies. www.viarail.ca/trains/en
2. Through the Rockies
Half the excitement of a cross-Canada train trip is going through the Rockies. No time for the whole thing? Rocky Mountaineer Vacations runs train trips through the mountains, Vancouver to Calgary or vice-versa. Travel by day when you can see the sights, and stay in a hotel overnight. www.rockymountaineer.com
3. The far north
The best train trips take you to places without roads or cars. Like the VIA train from Winnipeg to Churchill, Manitoba, on the shore of Hudson Bay. It’s a 1,700-kilometre, two-night trip that costs as little as $157 (one way) if you go coach. See www.viarail.ca/trains/en
4. The nearer north
The Polar Bear Express is a classic excursion train, travelling between Cochrane, Ont., and Moosonee on James Bay during the summer. The one-day, return-trip excursion is a quick way to experience the north — especially if you’re taking children along. www.ontarionorthland.ca/en
If you’ve got the time and bit of extra cash, it’s worth it to take a berth or a room on an overnight train and let yourself be rocked to sleep by the soothing clickety-click of the wheels on the track. The trip from Montreal to Halifax on VIA Rail’s The Ocean lasts about 21 hours — just enough time to kick back and relax. www.viarail.ca/trains/en
Source Link: Windsor Star
Tuesday’s federal budget acknowledged the importance of pumping money into Via Rail to make passenger service more comfortable and reliable in Ontario and Quebec.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty promised an additional $407 million in cash to upgrade infrastructure and make the necessary capital improvements.
But he fell woefully short of making the long-term investment in high-speed rail that would put Windsor in the loop, and that’s unfortunate. It has long been accepted that the only logical way to improve rail travel is to create a seamless high-speed route in the corridor from Essex County to Quebec City. Instead, he chose to focus on creating a “triple-track” system between Montreal and Toronto.
Flaherty boasted it would provide for two additional express trains between those two cities and reduce the trip times, “thereby making it possible to travel between these major metropolitan centres in approximately four hours.
“Trip times between Ottawa and Toronto,” he said, “will also be reduced by up to 30 minutes.”
That’s all well and good for those “metropolitan” travellers, but it won’t help those people living in the rest of southwestern Ontario. Nowhere is that oversight more obvious than in Windsor, which sees throngs of travellers from Michigan and Ohio flock to its antiquated station each year.
Those people are eager to explore the sights and sounds along the rail route, often stopping in Stratford and London on their way to Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City. They bring with them plenty of cash and a willingness to spend it.
Ironically, Flaherty acknowledged Windsor as one of Via’s “key” stations, right up there with Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. That tells us someone in the non-partisan rail caucus knows full well how important this area is to creating a quick and efficient rail corridor. There’s no question it should have been included in the project to link together major centres.
And while he did say there would be funds to “modernize” our station, Flaherty did not specify what we could expect. We trust it will be a traveller friendly new one to replace what’s become a tired old eyesore.
Along with this, the government must rethink its infrastructure plan so that it includes high-speed rail — which has been endorsed by the Ontario and Quebec governments. Any modernization project should include upgrading the rail line now, not later.