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Canadian Railroads > VIA's new Website & End of Senior/Companion Offer


Date: 06/17/09 15:21
VIA's new Website & End of Senior/Companion Offer
Author: DrawingroomA

As promised, VIA Rail has unveiled their new Website today. The new booking engine actually started last night with the unfortunate news that the "senior + free companion offer" has been withdrawn with apparently no notice. This was the deal that allowed a senior (defined as 60 or over) to take a companion of any age free in coach and at a huge discount in sleeper and in VIA 1 during July and August.

There are new definitions of classes. What used to be called coach class, then economy class and more recently comfort class is now back to economy. I guess the next step is to call it coach again. The departure board at Toronto Union tonight showed train 48 as "Coach sold out/VIA 1 available." What used to be roomettes, more recently called single bedrooms, are now called cabins for one. Similarly double bedrooms and drawing rooms (triple bedrooms) are called cabins for two or three respectively.

The terms Silver and Blue Class on the Canadian and Easterly Class on the Ocean have been eliminated. They are now "sleeper class" and, in the case of the Ocean in peak season when there are two classes of sleeper, the former Easterly is now called Touring. VIA 1 is now called Business Class.

One benefit of the new fare structure is discounted fares in peak season. It is not surprising that in this economy it is hard to sell sleeper space on the Canadian for $2000 per person.

It is easier to find menus on this new Website. The menus for the Canadian appear to be accurate for a change. They were previously hidden in two different parts of the old Website and neither set of menus was current, one set being from 2007.



Date: 06/17/09 16:07
Re: VIA's new Website & End of Senior/Companion Offer
Author: royaltrain

I wonder if Via wastes money on "consultants" that have recently caused a scandal with certain government agencies in Ontario, or do Via employees have so little to do, that management orders them to conjure up ridiculous new descriptions for sleeping car accommodations.

Seniors and pensioners would certainly appreciate a better deal on fares, not their discontinuance.



Date: 06/17/09 16:53
Re: VIA's new Website & End of Senior/Companion Offer
Author: ghCBNS

royaltrain Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I wonder if Via wastes money on "consultants" that
> have recently caused a scandal with certain
> government agencies in Ontario, or do Via
> employees have so little to do, that management
> orders them to conjure up ridiculous new
> descriptions for sleeping car accommodations.
>
> Seniors and pensioners would certainly appreciate
> a better deal on fares, not their discontinuance.

Just did some “sample” bookings and I’ve found deals I’m eledgeable for that wouldn’t have been available under the old fare structure. You win some, you lose some! But perhaps a lot more people will now benefit from the new fares.......and why should the full fare I had to pay previously be subsidizing a senior’s companion who was traveling for free?

(Seniors travelling under the new structure still get pretty good deals. And from the samples I've checked.....only slightly more than what they would have paid previously)

And who really cares if it’s called a cabin for one/cabin for two instead of a bedroom? Outside of North America a Cabin seams to be a common term for railroad sleeping accommodations. Even Marine Atlantic and BC Ferries in Canada have used this term for years. Perhaps VIA is just bringing themselves in line with the rest of the world.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/17/09 17:31 by ghCBNS.



Date: 06/17/09 20:55
Re: VIA's new Website & End of Senior/Companion Offer
Author: IC_2024

royaltrain Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I wonder if Via wastes money on "consultants" that
> have recently caused a scandal with certain
> government agencies in Ontario, or do Via
> employees have so little to do, that management
> orders them to conjure up ridiculous new
> descriptions for sleeping car accommodations.
>
> Seniors and pensioners would certainly appreciate
> a better deal on fares, not their discontinuance.

Thank you! Sounds like goofy cruise ship people to me. One of the first things Prez. Gunn did at Amtrak was to eliminate the name "Economy Room" from the lexicon of AM-lingo restoring the appropriate RR name, Roomette.
I'm not impressed with the cutbacks on the senior fares, either--yeah, yeah,, I know...the failing economy's to blame for everything.



Date: 06/18/09 08:24
Re: VIA's new Website & End of Senior/Companion Offer
Author: joemvcnj

Can you get on-line status for a train's expected arrival yet ?



Date: 06/18/09 09:13
Re: VIA's new Website & End of Senior/Companion Offer
Author: ghCBNS

IC_2024 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Thank you! Sounds like goofy cruise ship people
> to me.


Don’t think it’s just a cruise ship term. VIA is now joining most of world’s railways by referring to sleeper accommodations as Cabins.


> One of the first things Prez. Gunn did at
> Amtrak was to eliminate the name "Economy Room"
> from the lexicon of AM-lingo restoring the
> appropriate RR name, Roomette.


And what Amtrak refers to, as a “Roomette” is not the accommodation that Pullman, NYC, UP etc would have sold you. A Roomette was for a single traveler, with sink & toilet.

I think “Economy Room” a much more appropriate term. The Superliner “Roomette” is nothing more than an Upper & Lower Berth with a sliding door instead of a curtains with no sink or toilet.

At least the Viewliner “Roomette” has a sink but the toilet lacks privacy, being open in a room usually occupied by two.



Date: 06/18/09 09:54
VIA's new Website
Author: jp1822

VIA's marketing department is going to first have a field day in promoting the conversion of these terms, but in the long run, I think they really made a mistake by retiring the "Silver & Blue" and "Easterly" class name. It sort of gave the passenger some sort of "atmosphere" if you will, to look forward to and also "define" a service. Basically you have "Silver & Blue," "Easterly," and "Totem" being replaced by this "Touring" class universal name. I just think they've lost a tangible piece of their marketing for the long term to promote services on these particular trains. Do the names romanticize them and give them a special unique quality - I think I it did. And losing that to a generic is going to be interesting.

So is VIA having a fireside auction of all the souvenirs that used to have these names that are no longer applicable?



Date: 06/18/09 12:09
Re: VIA's new Website
Author: royaltrain

Why doesn't Via call a spade a spade and refer to its upgraded and expensive accommodations as first class. Traditionally railways charged a first-class fare plus a further supplement for riding in sleeping cars or parlour cars. Via, and CN before it, decided to do away with first class and call the upgraded space something other than first class (club, sleeper etc). Then Via came up with Via 1, and for a while it was marketed as a first-class product, in fact I still have some ticket envelopes that clearly labeled it "1st Class." Then Via dropped the 1st Class and it just became Via 1 although the ticket used the airline code "J" (Business). Now Via has made it official, and Via's J class is Business and not Via 1. Of course next week Via may come up with yet another round of name changes. In Britain and Europe first class is still used, although in Britain 2nd class has disappeared in favour of "standard class." I'm not sure if 2nd class has survived on the continent.



Date: 06/18/09 14:35
Re: VIA's new Website & End of Senior/Companion Offer
Author: DrawingroomA

joemvcnj Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Can you get on-line status for a train's expected
> arrival yet ?


Yes, but for corridor trains only. It has been promised that the long distance trains will be added to this system. About three years ago I received a response from VIA in response to my enquiry of being able to pick a seat or room from a plan on the on-line booking engine. I was told it will be available soon. I'm still waiting.

http://reservia.viarail.ca/tsi/tsiresult.aspx?l=en&from=iframe



Date: 06/18/09 20:11
Re: VIA's new Website & End of Senior/Companion Offer
Author: jp1822

I think "business class" both for VIA and Amtrak makes no sense. I actually like VIA 1 class better, and was hoping Amtrak would come out with something similar - Amtrak 1 or Amtrak Premiere. I also think "looking back" at the nostalgic terms of railroading is also worth while. For example, perhaps the former "Totem" class would best be sold as "Parlor." I realize "Touring Class" is going to be used more universally, but it often carries the same stereotype as "business class." Some believe "business class" is only good for those travelling on business. Is "Touring Class" just for those on vacation, and not your average Canadian looking for a sleeper to get from point A to point B in a more upscale accommodation?

Also I think VIA did have it right with the use of "berths" and "roomettes" specifically - as these were the common names of such bedrooms even back to the CP days and on American railways.

I did peruse the site today. There is some good functionality to the site, but the terms and dropping of the train names - for the most part are just a "dumbing down" of services. And since most believe that only senior citizens on vacation ride the Canadian in sleeper class, these people are likely going to be at a loss for trying to book the "same trip they had last year" for instance. The reservation rep will have to update the party on the new "terms" being used.

PS - the online schedules still refer to the train names, but for the most part they are removed from the main home page. So I am curious if we will see a total loss of the train names.



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