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Canadian Railroads > VIA Trains 1 - 2, the Canadian Positively Still the Best

Date: 05/05/19 14:56
VIA Trains 1 - 2, the Canadian Positively Still the Best
Author: viatrainrider

I recently did a round trip, WPG, Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg on the Canadian.  Everything was wonderful.  The food great and with one exception dealt with below, all on board service the very best!

Now timekeeping was unbelievably good.  Train 1 ran somewhat behind at intermediate stops.  However, thanks to schedule padding, we were two hours early into  Vancouver.  And on the return eastbound to Toronto, only an hour plus late into Winnipeg.  Arrival into Toronto 2 1/2 hours early at 11:30 AM!!  Did we really need another schedule change May 1?  Many CN freights were waiting for us.  As stated by me on earlier posts, I feel the severe winter was the main problem which partly could have been helped by having an extra set of equipment at Toronto so departures did not have to be delayed until the next morning when Train 2 arrived there very late.

Another concern of mine was that last April another writer wrote about extreme rough track, his train going too fast, passengers screaming for the train to slow down, spilled coffee in the diner, etc.  My concern was that with the spring thaw maybe we would experience the same especially rough conditions.  However, I am pleased to say this was not so.  I think the track between Melville and Saskatoon has always been the rougher part of the trip in my view and was no rougher this April than at other times of the year.  All was calm in the diner, most passengers enjoying the trip and servers doing a fine job serving food.

Dome space: This still being low season there was plenty of Park car dome space for all who wished to be there.  Westbound it appeared there were two Prestige rooms rented and eastbound from Vancouver, four.  There was one Prestige sleeper both directions.  In addition, there was a sleeper class Skyline ahead of the one diner without attendant westbound when passenger count was somewhat light and with attendant eastbound with more passengers.  15 cars westbound and I think 17 eastbound with two or three Chateau deadhead sleepers ahead of the bag car.  Sleeping car numbers started at 110 (210) forward of the sleeper Skyline and went up to 115 (215) going forward to the coach Skyline.

Not so impressed with our porter VAN - WPG who I will not name as he has already been dealt with with by management.  However, each morning, he made up the beds but did not replace the towels, clean the sink or medicine cabinet mirror, or take out the trash.  The only way the trash got emptied was by my setting it out in the hall so if he stumbled over it it might get emptied.  It was then emptied and put back in room but still had go ask for the new towels.  Told Daman who replaced him as porter at WPG about this.  He said it was not the first time for the poor service by the mentioned porter.  He apparently emailed the WPG office reporting the lack of service by poor porter and did a great job  getting our room shined up just perfect,  So to my surprise, a management person was waiting for us upon our final arrival back at WPG.  He asked for details and asked me to email a complete report on the poor service by this porter--genuine concern that this was not up to the service standards VIA sets for the Canadian.  I received a nice letter back apologizing for the poor service and indicating definitely the guy had already been dealt with.  Very much a plus receiving such personal concern that I do not think I would find on Amtrak.

Another huge plus in my mind:  Westbound a great porter named Bob and SM Mario.  I spoke briefly to both of them.  After arrival at Vancouver they were waiting nearby my wife and me for a cab, both pf them now off duty.  When a cab arrived, they pointed at us to take it, they would wait for another.  And then while I was motioning for my wife to join me for the cab, I found that Bob and Mario, now off duty I repeat, were loading our bags into our cab for us!  I reported that kindness to management, for sure.  I was so impressed as our bags were heavy--too much stuff!!

Another plus:  I would go to the Park car for a glass of wine after dinner.  The Park car staff (Janiey sp? and Bridgette especially good) would always volunteer to carry my glass of wine upstairs to the dome, a bit of a  trick on the moving train.  Ever had an attendant on an Amtrak Sightseer car offer to take the beverages upstairs to the viewing area?  And you just cannot beat Fabian east bound to WPG and Chris to Toronto as outstanding SM's!  And Natilie, was a super dining car SM where positively nothing went wrong, on her watch all good food, all perfect service.  The only problem with the food is that I love it, especially the chocolate torte and the cheesecake!!  When I got home I got on the scale:  5 pounds heavier!!  We had such a great time that all directly serving  my wife and me got nice gratuities except for the one poor service guy who got only $5.

One other thing: often on this forum is the debate about whether this is only a tourist train or an all stops locals train.  Maybe in peak season it is a prime tourists train but at this time of year, no doubt.  The train, while there were a couple of recreational trainriders like myself, is about many Canadians going places.  I know this because we ate dinner with them and visited with them in the dome.  While I forgot to get a count in  the coach, I viewed many getting on/ off at Edmonton and some at Saskatoon.  And I viewed from the dome a few on/off at Melville, Watrous, and Longlac.  And yes, one even exited the train at Oba!  Yes, Oba! Don't think many people even live there!!

So yes, the trip was great.  In fact it was a highlight of our year.  I will be back in the fall for a ride to Churchill and next spring for another trip on VIA Trains 1 - 2, POSITIVELY STILL THE BEST REGULARLY SCHEDULED PASSENGER TRAIN IN NORTH AMERICA!!  Thanks VIA for your great service and keeping your standards high!  And for personal concern about the poor porter.  And for running a train with two Skyline dome lounges and a great Park car dome/bar and full deluxe diner.  And for those who can afford it, deluxe Prestige sleepers!

THEN home to find two inches of water in my basement from a rapid 300 inch snow melt!!  The train ride was far more fun than the work that followed doing basement cleanup.  Outside drain found to be plugged by a 10 ft tree root!!


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/06/19 10:43 by viatrainrider.

Date: 05/05/19 15:37
Re: VIA Trains 1 - 2, the Canadian Positively Still the Best
Author: DrawingroomA

Thanks for posting the detailed report. I'm pleased you mentioned that people other than tourists take the train in the off-peak season. I have met many who are going on holiday or to visit friends or family, or even to attend a convention or travelling for work. Not everyone likes to fly (or can fly) and, even though the  train  is slower than it used to be and runs only twice a week, many people adapt to it when they are determined to ride the Canadian.

On the 1st of this month - the first date that discounted trips can be booked with VIA Preference coupons - several of my friends  and I booked our next trip. But it isn't until November.

Date: 05/05/19 15:41
Re: VIA Trains 1 - 2, the Canadian Positively Still the Best
Author: Chessie

Second your comments on Fabien - great guy.  Rode with Fab the first time in 2012 (TRTO-VANC, he was asked to work through Winnipeg and accepted) and most recently on #2 in March VANC-WPG.  Our March consist had two dining cars and while the diner I was assigned was not the one Natalie was running, I did have occasion to converse with her and was left with a very favorable impression.  We had an early arrival into Toronto despite multiple complications from CN including one that could have been trip-ending (broken wheel on a freight between Edmonton and Winnipeg).  I'm hoping the interval until my next trip is much shorter than the six-plus years between the previous two! 

Date: 05/05/19 18:48
Re: VIA Trains 1 - 2, the Canadian Positively Still the Best
Author: andersonb109

Sounds like you lazy porter would fit in well at Amtrak. Most of the things you mentioned he didn't do aren't normally done on the people's railroad. 

Date: 05/08/19 13:01
Re: VIA Trains 1 - 2, the Canadian Positively Still the Best
Author: mmmm7004

April 5..Vancouver  to  Toronto............also  an  excellent  trip..........great  staff   great  food............do  it  again  in  June............. 

Date: 05/08/19 14:01
Re: VIA Trains 1 - 2, the Canadian Positively Still the Best
Author: goneon66

glad to hear this.  as soon as my wife retires, hopefully we shall take #2 from van-tor to visit family.......


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