Via Rail Canada Template:Reporting mark (Template:IPAc-en; generally shortened to Via Rail or Via; styled corporately as VIA Rail Canada) is an independent crown corporation offering intercity passenger rail services in Canada.

Via Rail operates 497 trains in eight Canadian provinces (exceptions are Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island) over a network of 12,500 kilometres (7,800 mi) of track, almost all of which is owned and operated by CN Rail. Via carries approximately 4.1 million passengers annually,[1] the majority on routes along the Quebec City – Windsor Corridor.


Early Canadian intercity passenger railEdit


After World War II, two developments eventually proved disastrous to previously profitable passenger rail transport offered by Canadian National Railways (CNR), the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), and smaller lines. Long-distance Canadian intercity passenger trains began to be replaced with air travel, and short- and middle-distance passenger trains lost mode share to personal automobiles on highways such as the Trans-Canada Highway. Critics of this shift point out that all these new services were subsidized by taxpayers, from construction of highways to construction of airports, making it difficult for rail to compete; opponents of rail point out that the construction of the railways themselves was similarly subsidized. (Canadian National and Canadian Pacific themselves contributed to the growth of air travel through Air Canada and CP Air, which were the two largest airlines in Canada at one time.)Template:Citation needed

By the 1960s it was obvious to both Canadian National (CN) and CPR that passenger trains were no longer economically viable under traditional market manifestations. CPR sought to rid itself of the burden of operating passenger trains, but federal government regulators and politicians balked, forcing CPR to continue running a minimal service through the 1970s. CN on the other hand, being a Crown corporation, was encouraged by the federal government and political interests to invest in passenger trains. Innovative marketing schemes such as Red, White, and Blue fares, new equipment such as scenic dome cars and rail diesel cars, and services such as Rapido and Turbo trains substantially increased ridership, reversing previous declines.Template:Citation needed

By the 1970s, CN sought to rid itself of passenger trains. The decline of passenger rail became a federal election issue in 1974 when the government of Pierre Trudeau promised to implement a nation-wide carrier similar to Amtrak in the United States. The bilingual name Via or Via CN originated in 1976 as a marketing term for Canadian National's passenger train services and the Via logo began to appear on CN passenger locomotives and cars, while still carrying CN logos as well. That September, Via published a single timetable with information on both CN and CP trains, marking the first time that Canadians could find all major passenger trains in one publication. In 1977, CN underwent a dramatic restructuring when it placed various non-core freight railway activities into separate subsidiaries such as ferries under CN Marine and passenger trains under Via Rail which was subsequently renamed Via Rail Canada.Template:Citation needed

The formation of Via Rail CanadaEdit

File:004 Ottawa station.jpg

On April 1, 1978, Canadian National's passenger subsidiary Via Rail became a separate Crown corporation, taking with it possession of former CN passenger cars and locomotives. Following several months of negotiation, on October 29, 1978, Via took over operation of CP passenger train services, and took possession of cars and locomotives. Passenger train services which were not included in the creation of Via Rail included those offered by BC Rail, Algoma Central Railway, Ontario Northland Railway, Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway, various urban commuter train services operated by CN and CP, and remaining CN passenger services in Newfoundland. At this time, Via did not own any trackage and had to pay right-of-way fees to CN and CP, sometimes being the only user of rural branch lines.Template:Citation needed

Via initially had a tremendous variety of equipment, with much of it in need of replacement, and operated routes stretching from Sydney, Nova Scotia to Prince Rupert, British Columbia and north to Churchill, Manitoba. Over 150 scheduled trains per week were in operation, including transcontinental services, regional trains, and corridor services.Template:Citation needed

While Via is an independent federal Crown corporation mandated to operate as a business, it is hindered by the fact that it was created by an Order in Council of the Privy Council, and not from legislation passed by Parliament. If Via were enabled by legislation, the company could be permitted to seek funding on the open money markets as other Crown corporations such as CN have done in the past. It is largely for this reason that critics say Via is vulnerable to federal budget cuts and continues to answer first to its political masters, as opposed to the business decisions needed to ensure the viability of intercity passenger rail service.Template:Citation needed

First round of cutsEdit

Increased ridership would not be Via's saviour. In 1981, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's government endorsed Minister of Transport Jean-Luc Pépin's plan which cut Via's budget, leading to a 40% reduction in the company's operations. Gone were frequently sold-out trains such as the Super Continental (which reduced Via to operating only one transcontinental train, The Canadian) and the popular Atlantic, among others.Template:Citation needed

File:VIA 73 with 6424.JPG

Via also sought to reduce its reliance on over 30-year-old second-hand equipment and placed a significant order with Bombardier Transportation for new high-speed locomotives and cars which would be used in its corridor trains. The LRC (Light, Rapid, Comfortable) locomotives and cars used advanced technology such as active tilt to increase speed, but proved troublesome and took several years to work out problems (by 1990 only a handful of LRC locomotives remained in service which were subsequently retired by the arrival of the GE Genesis locomotives in 2001).Template:Citation needed

Restoration of serviceEdit

The election of Brian Mulroney's government in 1984 brought a friend to Via, initially, when several of Mulroney's commitments included rescinding the Via cuts of 1981 by restoring the Super Continental (under pressure from his western caucus), and the Atlantic (under pressure from his eastern caucus and the then-Saint John mayor Elsie Wayne). Prime Minister Mulroney's government gave Via funding to refurbish some of its cars, and purchase new locomotives, this time a more reliable model from General Motors Diesel Division.Template:Citation needed

It was during this time on February 8, 1986, that Via's eastbound Super Continental collided with a CN freight train near Hinton, Alberta as a result of the freight train crew missing a signal light. The resulting derailment killed 23 people and remains the worst accident in modern Canadian railway history in terms of loss of life.Template:Citation needed

Second round of cutsEdit


By the late 1980s, inflation and other rising costs were taking their toll on federal budgets and in the Mulroney government's 1989 budget, Via again saw its budget slashed, surpassing even the 1981 cuts under Trudeau. Minister of Transport Benoît Bouchard oversaw the reduction in service on January 15, 1990, when Via's operations were reduced by 55%.Template:Citation needed

Services such as the Super Continental were cut again, along with numerous disparate rural services such as in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley and Cape Breton Island, western Canada, and in the corridor. The Canadian was also moved from its 'home' rails on CP to the northerly CN route (which the Super Continental had used). The shift to the less-populated (and less scenic) route between Toronto and Vancouver severed major western cities such as Regina and Calgary from the passenger rail network and flared western bitterness toward Ottawa.Template:Citation needed

The official justification for the rerouting was that the trains would serve more remote communities, but the concentration of ridings held by the Progressive Conservatives along the CN route attracted the charge that the move was chiefly political. Harvie André, one of Alberta's federal cabinet ministers who represented Calgary, stated publicly that he did not care if he never saw a passenger train again in his life.Template:Citation needed

After these cuts, Via was a much smaller company and immediately took to rationalizing its fleet of cars and locomotives, resulting in a fleet of refurbished stainless steel (HEP-1 and HEP-2 rebuilds, for "head end power") and LRC cars, as well as rationalizing its locomotive fleet with GM and Bombardier (LRC) units.Template:Citation needed

Third round of cutsEdit

Via was not spared from further cutbacks in Jean Chrétien's government elected in 1993. Minister of Finance Paul Martin's first budget in 1994 saw further Via cuts which saw the popular Atlantic dropped from the schedule, focusing the eastern transcontinental service on the Ocean.Template:Citation needed

This move was seen as somewhat controversial and politically motivated as the principal cities benefiting from the Atlantic's service were Sherbrooke, Quebec and Saint John, New Brunswick, where the only two Progressive Conservative Party Members of Parliament in Canada were elected in the 1993 federal election in which Chrétien's Liberal Party took power. The Ocean service which was preserved operates on trackage between Montreal and Halifax running through the lower St. Lawrence River valley and northern New Brunswick. The Minister of Transport in Chrétien's government at the time, Douglas Young, was elected from a district that included Bathurst, New Brunswick, on the Ocean's route. A remote Via service to Quebec's Gaspé Peninsula, the Chaleur was also spared from being cut at this time, despite having less ridership than the Atlantic.Template:Citation needed


File:VIA 66 with 901.JPG

By the late 1990s, amidst rising environmental concerns focusing on reducing dependence on automobiles and airplanes (see Kyoto Accord), and with a rail-friendly Minister of Transport David Collenette in office, there were modest funding increases to Via. Corridor services were improved with new and faster trains, a weekly tourist train The Bras d'Or returned Via service to Cape Breton Island for the first time since the 1990 cuts, and a commitment was made to continue operating on Vancouver Island, but western Canada continued to languish with the only service provided by the Canadian and a few remote service trains in northern BC and Manitoba.Template:Citation needed

In a significant new funding program dubbed "Renaissance", a fleet of unused passenger cars which had been built for planned Nightstar sleeper services between locations in the United Kingdom and Continental Europe, via the Channel Tunnel, were purchased and adapted following the cancellation of the Nightstar project. The new "Renaissance" cars were swiftly nicknamed déplaisance ("displeasure") by French-speaking employees and customers, due to early problems adapting the equipment for Canadian use. Doors and toilets froze in cold Atlantic Canada temperatures, resulting in delays and service interruptions.[2] New diesel-electric P42DC locomotives purchased from General Electric allowed the withdrawal of older locomotives, including the remaining LRC locomotives. The LRC passenger cars were retained and continued to provide much of the Corridor service. This expansion to Via's fleet has permitted scheduling flexibility, particularly in the corridor. Additionally, many passenger stations have been remodelled into rider-friendly destinations, with several hosting co-located transit and regional bus hubs for various municipalities.Template:Citation needed

On October 24, 2003, federal Minister of Transport David Collenette announced $700 million in new funding over the next five years. This funding was far below the $3 billion needed to implement a high-speed rail proposal in the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor nicknamed ViaFast, however the funding was intended to "provide for faster, more frequent and more reliable passenger service across Canada... [preserving] the option for higher speed rail, such as the Via Fast proposal" said Collenette. This new project was to be called "Renaissance II".[3] CriticsTemplate:Who of "Renaissance II" noted that the majority of spending would take place in the corridor services and not add new trains or improved scheduling to Atlantic and Western Canada.

Fourth round of cutsEdit

On December 18, 2003, Prime Minister Paul Martin announced a freeze in federal spending on all major capital projects, including Via's five-year $700 million capital investment 'Renaissance II' program announced just six weeks earlier by outgoing Prime Minister Chrétien's administration. Critics of Martin's cuts claimed that he was in a distinct conflict of interest as his family through Canada Steamship Lines and various subsidiary and affiliated companies had once had a significant investment in the Voyageur Colonial Bus Lines, an intercity bus line in Quebec and eastern Ontario that is a key competitor of Via Rail.Template:Citation needed

Route cuts under the Martin government included the withdrawal of the seasonal Bras d'Or tourist train, which ran for the last time in September 2004, and the Montreal-Toronto overnight Enterprise', which was discontinued in September 2005. The Sarnia–Chicago International was also discontinued in April 2004 by Amtrak. Via's portion of the route from Toronto-Sarnia remains in operation as Via was able to use their own equipment to operate the train.Template:Citation needed

Via's role in the 2004 sponsorship scandalEdit

File:Via 68-1.jpg

The federal Auditor General's report released publicly on February 10, 2004, showed what appeared to be a criminal misdirection of government funds intended for advertising to key Quebec-based supporters of the Liberal Party of Canada. Included in the Auditor General's report was the fact that Via Rail was used as one of several federal government departments, agencies, and Crown corporations to funnel these illicit funds. Forced to act on the Auditor General's report due to its political implications, Prime Minister Paul Martin's government suspended Via Rail President Marc LeFrançois on February 24, 2004, giving him an ultimatum of several days to defend himself against allegations in the report or face further disciplinary action.Template:Citation needed

Several days later, during LeFrançois's suspension, a former Via Rail marketing department employee, Myriam Bédard, claimed she was fired several years earlier when she questioned company billing practices in dealing with advertising companies. (According to CBC News, an arbitrator's report later concluded that Bédard had voluntarily left Via Rail.) She was publicly belittled by Via Rail Chief Executive Officer Jean Pelletier in national media on February 27, 2004. Pelletier retracted his statements but on March 1, 2004, Pelletier was fired. On March 5, 2004, after failing to adequately defend himself against the allegations in the Auditor General's report, LeFrançois was fired as well.Template:Citation needed

Increasing problems and reinstated fundingEdit

The reversal of funding in 2003 led to a backlog of deferred maintenance and left Via unable to replace or refurbish life-expired locomotives and rolling stock. Regardless, Via ridership increased from 3.8 million in 2005 to 4.1 million in 2006.[4]

On October 11, 2007, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced federal government funding of $691.9 million over five years, of which $519 million is capital funding, and the remainder additional operating funding. The capital funding is earmarked to refurbish Via's fleet of 54 F40PH-2 locomotives to meet new emissions standards and extend their service lives by 15–20 years, refurbish the interiors of the LRC coaches, reduce track capacity bottlenecks and speed restrictions in the Windsor-Quebec City Corridor, and make repairs to a number of stations across the network.[5]

This announcement is similar in content to the previous Renaissance II package, and once again can be criticized for not including any new equipment or funding for services outside the Corridor. Shortly after this announcement was made, documents obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act revealed that delays due to equipment failures had risen by 60% since the previous year. The company attributed this to problems with the aging F40 locomotive fleet.[6]

On January 27, 2009, the Government of Canada announced in its 2009 Economic Action Plan that it would increase funding to Via by $407 million to support improvements to passenger rail services, including higher train frequencies and enhanced on-time performance and speed, particularly in the Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto corridor.[7]

2009 strikeEdit

On July 21, 2009, Via Rail announced that its engineers would go on strike as of July 24 if no deal was reached by then, and began cancelling all trains in anticipation of strike. The strike officially began at midnight on July 24 after it became clear that no deal had been reached. Engineers had been without a contract since December 31, 2006. Full service was resumed on July 27, 2009.[8]

Proposed 2010 strikeEdit

A strike by the Canadian Auto Workers union, representing around 2,200 employees, was planned to begin on 4 July 2010, but was called off after the union and Via reached a three-year contract.[9]

Travelling on ViaEdit

Travel on Via varies by region as much as class. Many of Via's policies and protocols are the product of running a national train system with varying pressures and needs of different riders, communities, and contexts. The results are wide-ranging travel experiences depending on how far you are travelling and from where to where.

Classes of serviceEdit


  • Economy Class (formerly Comfort Class)[10] — Economy class seating in the coach cars. Passengers are not always assigned specific seats, and are usually segregated into specific train cars according to passenger destination. Seats are reasonably comfortable, but on the LRC equipment some of them face backwards, in contrast to the traditional North American practice. Some seats also provide only a partial view out the window. Snacks and beverages are sold by employees with service carts.
File:002 VIA 1 Interior.jpg
  • Business Class (formerly Via 1 class)[10] — This is the first-class seating available on most trains in southern Quebec and southern Ontario. Business Class offers passengers individually reserved seats, more spacious seating with all seats facing the front of the train (except for two 4-seaters per car), window blinds, inclusive hot three-course meals complete with complementary wine and liqueurs, in-seat AC power outlets and free Wi-Fi access. Business Class passengers are also granted priority boarding and access to the Panorama Lounges at major urban stations. They are also allowed on board the train before Economy Class passengers.[11]
  • Sleeper (formerly known as Comfort Sleeper) — As a class provided to late night passengers on lengthy routes, the sleeper class provides berth sections and single, double and triple bedrooms which feature bunkbeds, electrical outlet, chairs and a private washroom. Each sleeper car (except in the case of Renaissance cars) is equipped with a public shower.

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Class structure as of June 2009

  • Sleeper Touring Class – Available on The Canadian and The Ocean. Sleeper Touring class is the name being used by Via Rail for what was previously "Silver and Blue" class on The Canadian, and "Easterly" class on The Ocean. The descriptions of the class in each case are consistent with the descriptions of the previous class structure (see below). These changes are only of the class name.[12][13]
  • Touring Class – Available on the Jasper – Prince Rupert train. The description of "Touring" class is identical to that of the previous "Totem" class (see below), and is only a change of name.[14]

Previous class structure

  • Silver & Blue — A deluxe inclusive travel package on board the Canadian, which features Sleeper Class accommodation, first-class meals in the dining car, and access to the Skyline car and viewing salons in the glass-domed Park car. Passengers are also given priority boarding over Comfort Class and access to the Silver & Blue Lounge in Toronto Union Station. In June 2009, Silver and Blue class was replaced with Sleeper Touring Class.
  • Easterly — All-inclusive tour package on board the Ocean with access to a tour guide (known as the "Learning Coordinator"), Sleeper accommodation, first-class meals and access to the Park car. The Easterly class was designed to offer a seamless and relaxed travelling experience. Passengers receive priority boarding and access to the Panorama Lounge in Montreal station.[15] Easterly was replaced by Sleeper Touring Class in June 2009.
  • Totem — Access to the Park car on board the Skeena. A sub-class called Totem Deluxe provides its passengers with seating in the Panorama car. Totem and Totem Deluxe operates from May to September. Totem class was replaced by Touring Class in June 2009.

On boardEdit


  • Smoking is prohibited on all Via trains.
  • Washrooms are provided for each car. On sleeper cars, every private room has its own separate washroom.

Onboard service is the usual travel fare: sandwiches, sweets, etc. Beer and wine are sold; Via will remove passengers consuming their own alcohol.

There is a complimentary Wi-Fi service available in the Quebec City – Windsor Corridor. The present W-Fi system is provided by 21Net since November 2008. Previously, the Wi-Fi service was provided by Parsons commencing in February 2006. Via will be upgrading the present Wi-Fi system during 2011 with technology provided by Nomad Digital.[16][17][18]

Most trains that operate on the "Corridor" offer free 802.11b/g Wi-Fi access, and have AC outlets for laptop use. Via Rail was the first North American transportation service to offer Wi-Fi to its passengers in early 2006, and was one of the first in the world to do so. Via Rail is currently studying the implementation of a new wireless on-train broadband service capable of delivering high-speed Internet access, and plans to introduce it by the fall of 2010. During the transition to the new system, current on-board Wi-Fi connectivity is being improved with the use of the latest mobile network interfaces for all Internet communications, and the replacement and repair of any faulty components. Wi-Fi is also available to travellers in all classes of service who may benefit from complimentary Wi-Fi service in many Quebec City-Windsor corridor stations and in the exclusive pre-boarding Panorama lounges*:

  • Montreal (Dorval)*,
  • Ottawa (Fallowfield), Kingston*,
  • London*,
  • Montreal*,
  • Ottawa*,
  • Quebec City*,
  • Sainte-Foy,
  • Toronto*,
  • Windsor.

Complimentary Wi-Fi access is also available in the following stations throughout Via's network:

  • Edmonton,
  • Halifax,
  • Jasper,
  • Moncton,
  • Vancouver,
  • Winnipeg.


Via offers checked luggage on its longer-haul services; however, in the Corridor only certain trains have luggage cars. In older class cars there is sufficient space at the front of the car for luggage storage. In contrast, the Renaissance stock has enough space (underneath the seat) for only one small piece of carry-on luggage; the remainder must be checked.[19]

Accessibility and safety concernsEdit

Via offers pre-boarding assistance to those passengers requiring extra time to board its trains. Not all stations are equally accessible. In Montreal, the platform is even with the train floor, with a small 'bridge' over the gap between train and platform. In Toronto and most small stations, passengers must climb up from track level. However, most stations have special wheelchair lifts to assist passengers in wheelchairs.Template:Citation needed

Most trains can accommodate only one passenger travelling in a wheelchair. Furthermore, storage space for wheelchairs belonging to passengers who can transfer to a seat is very limited and can handle only a few types of wheelchairs. This frequently causes availability issues as availability is sold on a first-come-first-served basis. Via Rail's policy is to adhere to the minimum mandated by Transport Canada of one wheelchair seating area per train. As a result, passengers are frequently refused transportation.Template:Citation needed

At larger stations, such as Montreal Central or Toronto Union, access to platforms is strictly monitored and controlled, so that waiting passengers are allowed up on the platform only shortly before the train is due to leave. This tends to create a bottleneck detraining as potentially hundreds of travellers with their luggage file onto the one escalator or staircase in operation. This safety hazard may be resolved by the planned rebuilding of Union station over the next few years.Template:Citation needed

Routes and connections Template:AnchorEdit

The Corridor (Windsor – Quebec City)Edit


The Corridor trains run from Windsor, Ontario, in the west through southern Ontario to south-western Quebec to Quebec City. The area offers the greatest concentration of Via trains. Roughly 90% of Via's revenue and ridership is within this corridor.[20]


Via's Toronto–Montreal service runs between five and six trains daily with an express departing both cities at 17:00 daily except Saturday. Journey times vary depending on the actual train, with the 17:00 expresses (66 and 67) taking approximately 4 hours 45 minutes, while the following journeys departing at 18:20 from Toronto (68) and 1835 from Montreal (69) take roughly 5 hours and 38 minutes. The first train of the morning in each direction, as well as the express trains, are the only ones that offer a "bar car" service (for business class passengers only).

While travel on the express train is relatively easy (it stops only at Oshawa and Dorval), the 68 and 69 trains can be tedious as they stop at most stations between these two large cities. Although the Toronto–Montreal line is double tracked throughout its length (a rarity in Canada), the high volume of freight traffic on the line in recent years has reduced the percentage of passenger trains that arrive on time. Part of the reason for this is that Canadian National abandoned its line from Pembroke to North Bay in the 1990s, with the result that freight traffic between western Canada and Montreal or points east of Montreal now uses the Toronto–Montreal line.

Via has been working with CN since 2009 to add a third track to portions of this route.[21] The 66 km of track are projected to be finished in 2012, [22][21] and would eventually increase its on-time performance and reduce travel time by up to 30 minutes.


Via's service between the National Capital and Montreal runs fairly frequently every day with early service; however, the latest departure (despite the proximity of the two cities) is 18:00. Travel time varies from between 1 h 45 min to 2 h 10 min, with stops at Alexandria and Dorval. In May 2010, most of these travel times have been sped up. Though the number of travellers is lower than the main corridor route from Toronto to Montreal, Via still uses the assigned 'car' – meaning in all likelihood there will be empty cars while others are filled with passengers.

The cars used on this service varies between HEP2, LRC, and occasional Renaissance stock. Unlike Toronto or Montreal, there is no large automated departure/arrival board–these are indicated using older posted boards.

Long-distance routesEdit


Via calls this service The Canadian after a famous Canadian Pacific train that ran between 1955 and 1978, but the name is misleading since the Via version follows the more northerly Canadian National line rather than the historic main line of Canada's first transcontinental railway. Thus the present-day version does not serve Montreal, Ottawa, Thunder Bay, Calgary or Banff. It takes almost 87 hours between Toronto and Vancouver, which requires travellers to spend four nights on the train. The original Canadian took only about 68 hours to make the same 2,791-mile (4,492 km) trip.


This train, known as the Ocean, has operated over essentially the same route since 1903, making it one of the oldest named trains in the world. It travels over the former Intercolonial Railway, built by the federal government as part of the terms on which New Brunswick and Nova Scotia agreed to join Canada. During both world wars the line to Halifax was vitally important to Canada's war effort. The Ocean travels 840 miles (1,350 km) in 21 hours, leaving both Montreal and Halifax every day except Tuesday. On the days when it is combined with the Gaspé train the rolling stock resembles that of The Canadian. On the other three days it uses British-style Renaissance rolling stock.

Summary of Via routesEdit

Here is a table summarizing Via's routes across the country.[23]

Route Major stations Frequency Numbers Services Connections to
Canadian Toronto, Sudbury, Hornepayne, Sioux Lookout, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Jasper, Kamloops, Vancouver Three/week 1 and 2 Economy, baggage car, sleeper touring Washago, Sudbury (Downtown), Oba, Portage la Prairie, Jasper, Mission
Ocean Halifax, Truro, Moncton, Campbellton, Montreal Jacquet River, Bathurst Six/week 14 and 15 Economy, sleeper, sleeper touring
Montreal – Gaspé train (service between Gaspé & Matapédia suspended) Gaspé, Percé, Rimouski, Montreal Three/week 16 and 17 Economy, sleeper
Montreal – Senneterre train Senneterre, Montreal Three/week 603 and 606 Economy Hervey
Montreal – Jonquière train Jonquière, Montreal Three/week 600 and 602 Economy Hervey
Sudbury – White River train Sudbury (Downtown), Cartier, Chapleau, White River Three/week 185 and 186 Economy, baggage car Sudbury Jct, Franz
Winnipeg – Churchill train Winnipeg, Dauphin, Canora, The Pas, Thompson, Gillam, Churchill Two/week 692 and 693 Economy, sleeper Portage la Prairie, The Pas
Jasper – Prince Rupert train Jasper, Prince George, Prince Rupert Three/week 5 and 6 Economy, touring
Victoria – Courtenay train (service now defunct) Victoria, Nanaimo, Courtenay Daily 198, 199, 298, 299 Economy
Corridor Montreal–Ottawa, Montreal–Quebec City, Toronto–Kingston-Montreal, Toronto–Niagara Falls, Toronto–Kingston-Ottawa, Toronto–London-Sarnia, Toronto–London-Windsor 30/weekday
24/Sunday (see main page for details)
Varies by train, most have economy and business classes London, Aldershot, Oakville, Georgetown, Brampton, Guildwood, Oshawa, Brockville

As of 2009 with the exception of the Canadian and the Ocean Via Rail no longer has names for the trains, instead calling them by the route they travel.[24]

Weekend services are reduced on some of the daily routes, and may operate at different times, in which case they operate under different train numbers.

International connections are provided by agreement with Amtrak and include the Maple Leaf, operating between New York's Pennsylvania Station and Toronto's Union Station via Albany and Buffalo. The Adirondack is an exclusive Amtrak train operating between Montreal's Gare Centrale (Central Station) and New York City's Penn Station. Amtrak Cascades offers service between Vancouver and Seattle, Washington.

Corresponding train connections are also available by Ontario Northland Railway, Algoma Central Railway, and Keewatin Railway Company. Destinations include:

Route name Major stations Frequency Numbers Services Connect at
Northlander Toronto, Washago, Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, Huntsville, North Bay, New Liskeard, Cochrane Six/week 697 and 698 Economy, dining car Washago, Cochrane
Polar Bear Express Cochrane, Fraserdale, Coral, Moose River, Moosonee Five/week 421 and 422 Economy, baggage car, dining car Cochrane
Algoma Central Sault Ste. Marie, Searchmont, Hawk Junction, Dubreuilville, Hearst Three/week 631 and 632 Economy, baggage car, touring Franz, Oba
Keewatin Railway The Pas, Cranberry Portage, Pukatawagan Two/week 290 and 291 Economy, baggage car The Pas

Rolling stockEdit

This list includes those vehicles currently in use by Via and those that have been retired.


File:Qualicum Beach Station 3.jpg
Builder Model Current Fleet Years of service Notes
General Motors Electro-Motive Division F59PH 3 2009+ In late December 2009, Via leased 4 F59PH locomotives from RBRX leasing. These locomotives, numbered 18521, 18522, 18524, and 18529, were originally built for and operated by Toronto's GO Transit (numbered as 521, 522, 524, and 529), before being replaced by new Motive Power Industries MP40PH-3C locomotives. Since late December 2009, these units have been operating on Via Rail's service between Montreal and Jonquière and Senneterre, in Quebec. As of Oct 1, 2010, Via has 3 of the units (RBRX 18520, 18521, and 18522) still on lease.[25]
General Motors Diesel F40PH-2 54 1987–present P42DC and will feature a 3rd headlight, extended cab, and a separate diesel engine to drive the HEP and have been designated as F40PH-3's. 6400 was the prototype but 6402 will be the example for the rest of the fleet to follow.

Originally delivered as nos. 6400-6458; 6447 wrecked in 1997 Biggar, SK derailment; 6423 was wrecked in 1999 in Chatham, ON collision; 6450 was wrecked at Miramichi, NB in 2000; 6400 was wrecked at St-Charles, QC in 2010; 6422 and 6430 have also been wrecked; all 6 locomotives were written off from the roster.

General Electric / GE Transportation Systems P42DC 21 2001–present Delivered as Nos. 900-920. Operates exclusively on LRC, HEP1/HEP2, Renaissance consists in Quebec-Windsor Corridor. Currently the entire fleet is being fitted with a 3rd headlight (nicknamed "third eye"). Via also allocated funding in September 2009 to overhaul all 21 P42s, with upgrades including structural repairs and winterization of the locomotives.[26]

- #902 was delivered in a slightly different paint scheme, with a second blue stripe above the yellow stripe on the side of the locomotive. On August 17, 2009, 902 caught fire while leading train 46 into Ottawa, ON. It has been repaired, and reentered service in early January 2010. It no longer has the unique paint scheme.

Budd Company Rail Diesel Car RDC-1 3 Had 24. The two are no longer in service on Vancouver Island as the Victoria – Courtenay train service has been cut since spring 2011 due to poor track conditions, lack of funding and lack of ridership/ Ex.-CP and CN. Both RDC-1's are currently operating on the Sudbury-White River service.
Budd Company Rail Diesel Car RDC-2 2 Had 12. Two are still in service on the Sudbury – White River train/ Ex.-CP and CN
Budd Company Rail Diesel Car RDC-4 1 Had 7. Currently out of service on the Sudbury – White River train/ Ex.-CN

6250 was involved in a highway crossing accident that involved an MTO truck, 6250 was retired and scrapped and RDC-2 # 6205 has been temporarily converted into a makeshift baggage car, all seats and galley were removed and the windows have been boarded up. A new RDC-4 ex CP 9150 was purchased from a private collector and rebuilt at IRSI in Moncton, NB as 6251 for the Sudbury service.

General Motors Diesel FP9ARM 1 Rebuilt by CN for Via in the early 1980s. Had 15. Ex-CNR with only 1 unit number 6300 has been retired from the roster. Formerly used as the shop switcher at Via's Vancouver Maintenance Centre, will now be stored in a park in BC.
General Motors Diesel SW1000 2 Both are in service at Via Rail's Montreal Maintenance Centre (MMC)
United Aircraft TurboTrain Had 3. Five seven car trainsets were introduced by CN in 1968, withdrawn for modifications in 1970, relaunched with three nine car trainsets in 1971, transferred to Via in 1976,ran until 1982 when replaced by the LRC sets. Holds the Canadian rail speed record of 140 mph/ Ex. CN (retired)
Bombardier Transportation LRC-2 (Light, Rapid, Comfortable) 1981–2002 All have been retired; some still in storage and for sale at Via's shops in Toronto, Montreal. #6917 has been purchased by the Toronto Railway Historical Society (TRHA) for preservation.
Bombardier Transportation LRC-3 1981–2002 All have been retired; some still in storage and for sale at Via's shops in Toronto, Montreal. #6921 is preserved at ExpoRail (the Canadian railway museum) in Montreal.
Montreal Locomotive Works FPA-4 1976–1993 Ex. CN (retired)
Montreal Locomotive Works FPB-4 1976–1993 Ex. CN (retired)
Montreal Locomotive Works FPA-2 1976–1983 Ex. CN (retired)
Montreal Locomotive Works FPB-2 1976–1983 Ex. CN (retired)
Montreal Locomotive Works FPA-2u Ex. CN (retired)
Montreal Locomotive Works FPB-2u Ex. CN (retired)
General Motors Diesel FP9 Ex. CN and CP (retired)
General Motors Diesel F9B Ex. CN (retired)
General Motors Diesel FP7A Ex. CP (retired)
Montreal Locomotive Works RS-10 ex-CP Rail (retired)
General Motors Electro-Motive Division E8A ex-CP Rail
Budd Company Rail Diesel Car RDC-3 Had 10. All retired./ Ex.-CP and CN
Budd Company Rail Diesel Car RDC-9 Had 6. All retired./ Ex. CN

Passenger carsEdit

File:Prince Albert Park.jpg
File:LRC Club Car.jpg
File:VIA Rail Renaissance in Toronto.jpg
  • Coach car — Seating for use by Economy Class passengers. All seats face in the direction the train is travelling, with the exception of family and group seating at each end of the car. Any row of seats can be rotated to create a 4-seat area. AC power outlets are found in LRC coaches in the row of seats directly adjacent to the washroom area. LRC cars seat 68 while Renaissance cars seat 49.
  • Club car — Seating for use by Business Class passengers. All seats face forward with the exception of two on the left forward bulkhead and two in the rear, forming 4-seat communal areas. The rear area features a large fold-top table. All seating is equipped with AC power outlets. Windows also have curtains.
  • Transcontinental Coach car — Coach cars of the Canadian with fully reclining chairs and extending leg rests.
  • Sleeper car — Consists of open berth sections and single (known as "roomettes" by seasoned passengers), double and triple bedrooms (triples- or drawing rooms as they are also known — are available in the "Chateau" Series cars and parks cars only.) Bedrooms feature bunk beds, seating, and private toilets. The car is equipped with public shower facilities.
  • Park car — What Via Rail calls its "flagship car", it has two-levels and is situated in the very rear of the train. It includes a bar, lounge, three double bedrooms and one triple bedroom (also known as a drawing room), and the panoramic glass dome on its upper level.
  • Dining car — Serves meals by reservation. A Renaissance dining car holds 48 places in eight tables for four and eight tables for two. An ex-CPR Budd dining car seats 48 in a dozen four-seat tables.
  • Service car — A lounge area for Business Class passengers travelling in Renaissance cars. A take-out counter provides snack and drink service for customers. On the Ocean, service cars are placed next to the dining car so that meals can be prepared in the galley on the service car, to be served in the dining car.
  • Skyline car — Features a coffee shop, lounge, and panoramic dome seating.
  • Panorama car — A fully glass-enclosed seating car of the Jasper – Prince Rupert train.
  • Baggage car — Non-passenger car designed for carrying checked baggage.
Builder Model Qty Notes
Alstom "Renaissance" baggage car 12 Built 1995–96, Service 2002. Units 7000–7011. Originally built to be sleeping cars.
Alstom "Renaissance" club car 14 Built 1995–96, Service 2002. Units 7100–7113. Originally built for Nightstar but never used.
Alstom "Renaissance" coach car 33 Built 1995–96, Service 2002. Units 7200–7232. Originally built for Nightstar but never used.
Alstom "Renaissance" service car 20 Built 1995–96, Service 2002. Units 7300–7316 and 7354–7359. Units 7354–7359 are empty shells not yet put into service.
Alstom "Renaissance" dining car 3 Built 1995–96, Service 2002. Units 7400–7402. Originally built to be single-bedroom sleepers.
Alstom "Renaissance" sleeping car 57 Built 1995–96, Service 2002. Units 7500–7589. 29 cars inactive and stored in Thunder Bay.
Alstom "Renaissance" baggage transition car 3 Built 1995–96, Service 2002. Units 7600–7602. Corridor through car for passengers and coupler for Park car.
Bombardier Transportation LRC coach car 72 Built 1981–84. Purchased new. Units 3300–3399.
Bombardier Transportation LRC club car 26 Built 1984. Purchased new. Units 3451–3475 and 3600–3601.
Budd Company Coach car 43 Built 1946–55. Acquired 1978, mostly from CP. Units 8100–8147.
Budd Company Château sleeping car (HEP) 29 Built 1954. Acquired 1978 from CP. Units 8201–8229.
Budd Company Manor sleeping car (HEP) 40 Built 1954–55. Acquired 1978 from CP. Units 8301–8342.
Budd Company Dining car (HEP) 13 Built 1955. Acquired 1978 from CP. Units 8401–8418.
Budd Company Skyline dome car (HEP) 16 Built 1954–55. Acquired 1978 from CP. Units 8500–8517.
Budd Company Baggage car 19 Built 1954–55, 1963. Acquired 1978, mostly from CP. Units 8600–8623.
Budd Company Park car (HEP) 14 Built 1954. Acquired 1978 from CP. Units 8702–8718.
Budd Company Coach car (HEP) 10 Built 1947–49. Acquired 1989–2000 from Amtrak. Units 4000–4009.
Budd Company Coach car 23 Built 1947–53. Acquired 1989–2000, mostly from Amtrak. Completely stripped and rebuilt. Units 4100–4125.
Canadian Car and Foundry Baggage coach car 2 Built 1954. Acquired 1978. Units 5648–5649. In service with Keewatin Railway Company.
Colorado Railcar Panoramic coach car 3 Built 2000. Acquired 2002. Units 1720–1722.
Canadian Car and Foundry Lounge car 1 Built 1954. Acquired early 2002. Unit 1750.
Budd Company Observation club car 1 Built 1939. Acquired 2002 from BC Rail. Unit 1751. Inactive and stored in Montreal.
National Steel Car Baggage car 1 Built 1951. Acquired 1978. Unit 9631. The last one remaining is used on the Winnipeg – Churchill train.
Pullman Standard Coach car Retired
Pullman Standard 6-6-4 sleeper car Retired
Pullman Standard 4-8-4 sleeper car Retired

Demonstration unitsEdit

Product list and details
Make/Model Description  Fleet size Year acquired  Year retired Notes
Colorado Railcar Aero DMU lead car proposal only
Colorado Railcar Single-level ADA DMU coach
Pullman Standard Superliner 1 set 1985 demonstration on Supercontinental in Western Canada; borrowed from Amtrak
Adtranz IC3 Flexliner 1 set 1995 borrowed from Israeli railways


Further readingEdit

External linksEdit


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