The second quickest way to travel around Canada is by rail. Rail is preferable to flying by those who are in no rush to get to their destination and who would like to see a little of the countryside. It is quicker than bus, although not as cost effective in many cases. You have a choice of seating arrangements so there is something to suit all budgets and needs. Economy class trains usually have reclining seats so that if you do want to rest during your journey this is made much easier. You have access to all the amenities such as the snack bar, and you may find there is a surprising amount of leg room, particularly when compared with trains in the UK. The Sleeper Touring Class is a little more luxurious. You can get to have your own bedroom area and the beds are fairly comfortable. If you choose this type of travel then your meals in the restaurant car are included in the fare.
There are various types of sleeper cars and they all have hot showers at one end of the corridor. You can chose from a ‘section’ – a 1 berth roomette, or a 2 berth bedroom. The ‘section’ is the more economical type of sleeper and the little compartment is shut off from the rest of the carriage by a curtain. A single traveller would have a roomette that has its own toilet hidden under a footrest which is an ideal space saving solution, and there is a hand basin in the corner. There is much more privacy with this form of travel arrangement. The bed pulls down from the wall at night time, filling almost the whole roomette area, but it will need to be lifted if there is the need to use the toilet facilities. The 2 berth bedroom area is laid out similarly to the 1 berth roomette, but is much bigger and has its own en-suite wash and toilet facilities. As such this is the most expensive of the three choices.
There are several train companies that operate in Canada. These include Viarail and Rocky Mountaineer Vacations who now own ‘The Rocky Mountaineer’. If you want to travel in between cities then the Viarail trains are extremely quick. They link Montreal to Toronto and Ottawa. The journey between Toronto and Montreal takes around 4 hours and 40 minutes; the Toronto to Ottawa service takes around 4 hours and 20 minutes and from Montreal to Ottawa takes approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes. Viarail also travel between Montréal and Quebec and the journey takes just under 3 hours. Often classed as the greatest train in Canada, ‘The Canadian’ links the major cities of Toronto with Edmonton, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Jasper. The route is also classed as one of the best in the world. The complete journey from start to finish takes 4 nights. ‘The Ocean’ operates the route between Montreal and Halifax and the route takes around 22 hours to complete, although the return journey from Halifax to Montreal takes slightly less at around 20 hours. The train runs every day except Tuesday. The ‘Rockies by Daylight’ Viarail train was sold off to Rocky Mountaineer Vacations who renamed it ‘The Rocky Mountaineer’. This train runs regularly during the summer season and takes in stops including Vancouver, Calgary, Banff, Jasper, Quesnel and Kamloops. The clear domed roof of the carriages help to highlight the stunning natural beauty of the area. You can buy discounted tickets by booking in advance. You can buy tickets for the Viarail trains online at the Viarail website. For those who live outside of Canada who are wishing to purchase tickets then there is an alternative website to use, www.trainticket.com. It is possible to make stops along the way then continue your journey later. It is advisable to buy a multi city ticket rather than to pay for a ticket for each leg of your journey individually as this can work out to be rather costly in the long run. Multi city tickets are not ‘open’ tickets; they will have set times for trains on each leg of the journey. It is possible to buy railpasses but there are now certain restrictions associated with them. Such as you now do not get unlimited travel, each pass is worth 7 journeys with one stopover per journey.