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Passenger Trains > Trip report, Vancouver-Banff on Rocky Mountaineer

Date: 08/02/22 09:01
Trip report, Vancouver-Banff on Rocky Mountaineer
Author: WrongWayMurphy

In 2019 the lovely Mrs Murphy and I booked a trip on the Rocky Mountaineer along with another couple.
The male half of that couple was my college roommate in Nacogdoches and is a rancher at Dodge, TX.
The male half of my couple, me, is a retired purveyor of cast iron residing in Tyler, TX.

Anyway, we booked in 2019, the pandy delayed our trip in 2020, then delayed the rebooked trip for 2021,
and it finally happened last week.  We booked dirrectly through the RM, not a travel agent.  They offer Gold Service
which is on the double deck cars with all glass canopy, and  Silver Service which is on a single level coach. 
We opted for the Gold Service.  RM also has the option of adding on a hotel in Vancouver the night before the trip
and also the night upon arrival at Banff with transport between the trains stations and respective hotels.  We also opted
for both and the accommodations were excellent, The Georgian Court in Vancouver and Caribou Lodge in Banff.  They
put everyone up at various hotels in Kamloops, the half way point of the trip.

Monday morning we put suitcases outside the room and handlers picked them up and delivered them to our room at Kamloops
which was the intermediate stop.  A shuttle picked us up at the hotel and delivered us to the train station at about 7:15 am
in plenty of time for a 8:00 am departure.  The station looks like a repurposed industrial building of some sort.  Perhaps someone
can fill in the blanks on its origin.  The interior is wide open with a coffee bar that also serves a light snack.  Most just hopped off the 
busses/taxi onto the train but i roamed around a bit before boarding.  I found this piper piping just outside of our car.  He must have known
of my Scottish heritge to greet me this way.


Date: 08/02/22 09:12
Re: Trip report, Vancouver-Banff on Rocky Mountaineer
Author: WrongWayMurphy

Our first movement was a reverse move onto a wye to turn the train, seen here are both legs
of said wye with a people mover above.  We have backed up on the track on the right of this photo
and are moving forward of the other leg to enter the main line ahead.

We crossed the Fraser River at New Wesminster and I soon spotted this slug at a yard nearby.  There were at 
least 3 other slugs just out of the frame.

This intermodal container I believe was used for tool/material storage in the yard.

Date: 08/02/22 09:27
Re: Trip report, Vancouver-Banff on Rocky Mountaineer
Author: WrongWayMurphy

Here is a view of the car we were assigned to.  Seats are assigned and there is no
changing cars while en route.  On the Gold Service cars there is a roomy vestibule
on the end for "hanging out" outside.

We were fortunate that our car was behind a low level Silver Service car and a low level power car
so we had a unobstructed view out our front windows.  I found out later that the Gold Service car behind us
 was the identical to ours so when they looked out their front windows all they saw was our car end.  This turned
out to be kind of a big deal throughout the trip, good for us bad for them.

Numerous locations on the trip, our train was on one side of a river and another line on the opposite
side.  The only way I knew if we were on CP or CN was seeking out the competition.  An example
is seen here in the third photo.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/02/22 09:28 by WrongWayMurphy.

Date: 08/02/22 09:28
Re: Trip report, Vancouver-Banff on Rocky Mountaineer
Author: sagehen

My wife and I did a loop trip the first of June.  North Vancouver to Jasper via the former British Columbia Railway and Jasper to Vancouver via CN.  It was a fantastic trip, particularly the BCR leg!

Stan Praisewater

Date: 08/02/22 09:52
Re: Trip report, Vancouver-Banff on Rocky Mountaineer
Author: WrongWayMurphy

Here is another location with which to view "the competition".  This was either the Fraser or Adams River.

I mentioned the vestibule on the end of the cars.  I found myself here quite a bit enjoying the fresh air and unobstructed
views,  The vestibule on the cars behind us butted up to ours and was constantly wall to wall occupants on that car, and when
i asked why I was told because their vew above was obstructed by our car, as mentioned earlier.  Our vestibule was mostly
devoid of occupants, save for this Texan.  Here I am with my bride of 42 years.  I am still crazy for this gal, and wonder what she still
sees in me  :-).

The bridge in the third photo is qute pleasing to the eye.  A CN bridge crew was working on the east end just out of the frame to the right.


Date: 08/02/22 10:01
Re: Trip report, Vancouver-Banff on Rocky Mountaineer
Author: WrongWayMurphy

Here i shall mention that the food and overall level of service was excellent.

Mrs Murphy and I both had salmon on this ocassion, as did our companions.

Wine was ever present both upstairs and downstairs with meals.

Apparently we are on CN track now.

A CP train of gons and tank cars parallel our train to the north.  Up until this guy, almost all
trains I saw were stackers.

Date: 08/02/22 10:19
Re: Trip report, Vancouver-Banff on Rocky Mountaineer
Author: WrongWayMurphy

I am told this location is Kissak.  We are on track one.
Perhaps when track two was built, they said screw it, we are
gonna blow this thing up, and they did.

Arrival at Kamloops. We crossed a river lift bridge and backed into the spacious yard.
I suppose this diesel by the RM flag is protection power, or maybe a shop swticher.

A long string of cars from Montreal lines the boundry at the east end of the property.
I know nothing of the back story of these cars, other than they have been here a while.

Busses met us here and took us to the Doubletree Hotel for the night.  After arrival at the hotel
Mrs Murphy and I walked to a local pub to meet local Kamloops railfan Rick Schonfelder.  Rick and
I know a few BNFS foamers/modelers in common and caught up over a bubbly beverage.

That sort of covers day 1.  I shall make a separate Day 2 post another time.

Shane Murphy
Tyler, Tex.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/02/22 10:20 by WrongWayMurphy.

Date: 08/02/22 10:33
Re: Trip report, Vancouver-Banff on Rocky Mountaineer
Author: pullmanboss

My late wife and I did the Vancouver - Kamloops - Jasper - Banff - Kamloops - Vancouver trip in August 2017. It was a 55th wedding anniversary gift from our kids, and Rocky Mountaineer gave us the red carpet treatment even though the trip took place almost a year after that anniversary. (Upgraded rooms, chilled bottles of Prosecco awaiting in those rooms.) So if your trip marks a special occasion, be sure to let the reservation clerk know. I can attest to the crowded viewing platform on trailing Gold Service cars. Ours was always crowded, and it would have been impolite for anyone to try to hang out there for extended periods of time, or commandeer a spot along a side railing when others wanted to take pictures too. 

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/02/22 10:36 by pullmanboss.

Date: 08/02/22 10:40
Re: Trip report, Vancouver-Banff on Rocky Mountaineer
Author: Oregonpaul

CP-CN utilize directional running through the Fraser River Canyon. So if there is a CN train on the opposite track, that does not mean it is a CN track. That is just the westbound track. Great report and photos!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/02/22 10:40 by Oregonpaul.

Date: 08/02/22 11:25
Re: Trip report, Vancouver-Banff on Rocky Mountaineer
Author: jp1822

Nice report and photos! How was the trip from Kamloops to Banff? 

Rocky has been buying the Gold Leaf cars new, but the Silver Leaf cars have been converted from their legacy or older cars they have. Silver Leaf cars are a product out of California I believe. I presume those string of older cars noted are probably an investment towards the future for creating additional Silver Leaf Cars or some sort of great viewing car that Rocky has been good at putting into service for a great travel experience. Maintenance base for Rocky is at Kamloops, right near the Kamloops Station Stop.

Not a fan of the company, but Rocky's business model that's public facing works quite well attracting and giving people a great experience. They've nailed it with customer service once enroute etc., and even the bagpiper at the station for entertainment..........I hope their operation in Colorado works out as they could really make some nice travel experiences out of some Western Route travel - just like in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada. 

Date: 08/02/22 15:21
Re: Trip report, Vancouver-Banff on Rocky Mountaineer
Author: sagehen

We've ridden only Silver Leaf and have no problem with it.  We selected it because my wife didn't want to go downstairs for her meals.  In Silver Leaf, they bring the food to your seat.  I'd like to see what those big outdoor seating areas are like in Gold Leaf.  Otherwise I was very happy with Silver Leaf.

Stan Praisewater

Date: 08/02/22 15:42
Re: Trip report, Vancouver-Banff on Rocky Mountaineer
Author: jp1822

Rocky Mountaineer creating the Silver Leaf service was absolutely BRILLIANT! They went after the high end experience, and the high end revenue. The Red Rocks Colorado US train (whatever it is called) even has a Silver Leaf PLUS (even MORE BRILLIANT) to try and bring in EXTRA revenue by allowing Silver Leaf passengers access to a Lounge Car. Not sure if the Silver Leaf Plus option would work in Canada or not - could dilute Gold Leaf or even regular Silver Leaf class revenue. They eliminated the low hanging fruit with Red Leaf service - I say low hanging fruit because it was a bit of a cheaper option and had more capacity, but it produced less net income than what two Silver Leaf sold coaches could do, as an example. Again, from a financial management standpoint - BRILLIANT!

As much as Amtrak should take lessons from Rocky, Rocky is setup to be a tourist rail travel, not an essential rail travel. That's not to say good customer service techniques can't be learned from Rocky and if you charge a large price of $$$$ for passage, which Amtrak does for its sleeper class now - better deliver a good product. That could be highly criticized right now. Some of the amenities could actually be a "plus" or "add-on" program for Amtrak to bring in more revenue IF they wanted to. But Amtrak is always more worried about cutting expense. NUTS!

The Canadian Rocky version has two levels of service. To create two levels of service in the absence of Golf Leaf in the United States - Silver Leaf Plus was added. 

I'd say that Gold Leaf has a better dining experience with the lower level "dining area" shall we say, let alone the rear open platform that's available. Silver Leaf may have meals a bit more constricted than Gold Leaf, but you are served at your seat with a VERY good meal nonetheless. No open platform is available. In terms of the VIEW forward, the Golf Leaf car can offer that if it is positioned properly as OP notes, BUT, if its the lead Gold Leaf car and not the trailing Gold Leaf car, those in the TRAILING car have clear open views behind them and can watch the tracks/scenery disappear as the train passes by. So there are pros and cons to both. If the Gold Leaf car is sandwiched in between cars - as can often happen - then that's a completely different story as well.  

Date: 08/02/22 16:00
Re: Trip report, Vancouver-Banff on Rocky Mountaineer
Author: swirsk53

we did the Gold Leaf from Vancouver to Banff via a night in Kamloops in 2018. Was amazing. From Vancouver to Kamloops our train included cars bound for Banff and cars for Jasper.  The first day the Jasper cars were at the rear of the train. When we made our reservations, we requested to be seated in the Gold Leaf car that was the last car of the Banff section. That meant that on day 2, Kamloops to Banff, we were the last car of the train and our end of car platform was essentially an open platform observation. I recommend this for anyone making the journey. 

Date: 08/02/22 21:31
Re: Trip report, Vancouver-Banff on Rocky Mountaineer
Author: Jbarton

Thank you for the nice trip report and photos. I hope they can figure out a way to get the taller cars to work on the Moffat Line in Colorado.  That would be a nice addition for the scenery.  

Jim Barton

Date: 08/02/22 21:36
Re: Trip report, Vancouver-Banff on Rocky Mountaineer
Author: goduckies

Amtrak needs those outside spots!

Posted from Android

Date: 08/04/22 16:47
Re: Trip report, Vancouver-Banff on Rocky Mountaineer

Great report on your trip. I live just before the Fraser River Bridge in New Westminster so I see the Rocky go by all the time. The Rocky station in Vancouver used to be the CN Locomotive shops. Cheers

Date: 08/05/22 04:31
Re: Trip report, Vancouver-Banff on Rocky Mountaineer
Author: railsmith

WrongWayMurphy Wrote:
> Here is another location with which to view "the
> competition".  This was either the Fraser or
> Adams River.

It is the Thompson River.


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