VIA Rail Economy Class

Travelling in economy class on VIA Rail's The Canadian train provides you access to the Economy Car and Skyline Car. Here are some pics to give you a better idea of real-life conditions in economy class...

Note the above-head baggage stowing area and surprisingly ample leg room:


though some of the seats could use some cleaning...


The cafeteria-style dining area provides another place to enjoy the views


and the lower level of the Skyline Car offers a nice lounge area


where you can head on upstairs to enjoy a 360 degree view of your surroundings



VIA's Economy Class doesn't look that bad.

Questrade Democratic Pricing - 1 cent per share, $4.95 min / $9.95 max

Ebates.ca

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19 comments:

  1. yes i think is pretty good and if one can take two seats (paying two) that is still better than berths in my opinion. I have never taken it but I found your info really helpful! Thanks.

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    1. Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts Anonymous

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  2. Do the economy fares offer shower access?

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    1. That's a good question Matthew. I don't think so. I checked the VIA Rail web site and Economy Class doesn't mention "shower in the car" like it does for the "Sleeper Plus Class" for the Toronto-Vancouver train so based on that omission, I would assume no shower access for economy fares.

      Thanks for dropping by!

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  3. Wouldn't everyone just head up to the Sky Line lounge and hog the seats there? That's what I would be doing!

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    1. Hi Wilson, I can answer that question from my experience. No, people generally don't hog the seats in the domed car, even in the most picturesque parts of the mountains. I found that a small group chose to hang out up there, but the majority of the people chose to remain in their seats. If the crew announces a spectacular view, which does happen once or twice during the journey through the mountains, grab your camera fast and head up to the domed car if that is what you want to do because it will be packed for a couple minutes. However in all honesty, you get pretty much just as good of a view from your seat or in the lower level of the lounge car. There is more leg room at your seat than in the domed car, and there's a slightly increased risk of motion sickness there because it's higher so it rocks more. That said, the domed/lounge car is the only area licensed for alcohol for economy class passengers since you're not allowed access to the dining car unless you have a meal reservation. So if you plan to drink a lot, you may as well hang out in the dome car all the time. :D

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    2. Thanks for sharing your experiences Dawna!

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  4. Do passengers in sleeper cars and in seats have access to separate areas? For instance, can economy class passengers (seaters) still visit the Park car and the 2-lounge and bar combination? Or is there a physical separation between the areas? Also, is the Skyline (accessible to economy class passengers) equivalente to the Dome in the Park car (accessible to sleeper car passengers)?

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    1. Good question Traveller,

      When I was onboard, passengers in sleepers cars had access to the economy class cars but not the other way around. The only physical separation I noticed was the fact that they were separate cars (so the doors) and the signs that might morally dissuade you from going to the higher class. That being said, VIA Rail staff would likely question anyone in the "higher" class cars that they didn't remember serving food to or preparing their bed/room for.

      Hope that answers your question Traveller.

      Be sure to check out my other posts like http://destinationmike.blogspot.ca/2012/03/exclusive-park-car-on-via-rail.html to compare economy and sleeper classes if you haven't done so already. Thanks.

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  5. Thanks for the pictures since it gives me an idea of what I'm headed for. My worry is can my body take it for 3 days (My trip is Toronto->Vancouver) in the Economy Class. Sleeping upright in a chair isn't ideal for me, and that's why I can never sleep on a plane. Do the chairs lean back or is there a place to lie down?

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  6. How many stops were there offering passengers the opportunity to exit the train and walk on land during the 3 day trip?

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  7. If memory serves me right, they permitted us to get off once on the way back from Jasper to Vancouver. I think it all depends on rail traffic at the time of your trip. Best to contact VIA Rail.

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  8. I took VIA Economy between Saskatoon and Jasper this summer (and then onwards to Rupert on the Skeena). Firstly, some of the Skyline cars are refurbished, and they tend to assign the non-refurbished cars to Economy. Not the updated ones as you took a picture of. Secondly, in order to get into the Sleepers, one must pass through the Dining car which will likely yield a challenge by the VIA crew either working or hanging out there unless one sneaks in overnight. The dome cars tend to be a rougher ride and not nearly as comfortable as sitting in one's Economy/Coach section seat, but you can meet people up there at times. There is hot water available in the Skyline car for the Economy class passengers.

    The bottom of the economy seats pulls out, and usually they're so un-occupied that getting 2 of them at a time isn't a big deal. There are a limited number of 4-seat pairs which can be effectively turned into a sort of bed in Economy. The staff try and keep those 'reserved' for families and groups of 2, but a single traveller can grab one overnight if unoccupied without raising the ire of staff too much. Technically Economy passengers are only supposed to consume alcohol sold on-board in the Skyline car, but they aren't too strict if one brings it back to your seat unless you create a problem.

    Which brings me to the "Skyline" dining. VIA used to allow Economy passengers to obtain reservations in the proper Dining car, but apparently they have discontinued the practice. The meals in Economy that can be bought in the Skyline car are unfortunately served in Styrofoam clam-shells with plastic cutlery. The website isn't clear what happens in the winter months for Economy Class passengers.

    Official policy at VIA now is to not provide compensation for late trains outside the Corridor. However, unofficial policy is to provide complimentary meals to Economy Class passengers when a train's lateness would cause a passenger to miss an ordinarily scheduled mealtime. For instance, my train ordinarily was expected to arrive at Jasper at 1:30pm, but arrived at 9:30pm -- I was provided a complimentary dinner from the Skyline diner.

    As far as stops go, a lot depends on schedule. The only reliable stops are when the train must stop for refuelling/servicing. Everything else is at the whim of the schedule. If they are behind, then stops at intermediate stations will not facilitate getting off for a smoke, even for a couple minutes. Don't plan on having all your relatives in Melville, Wainwright, Edson, Valemont, etc., meet you at the train because there's a very high probability that they won't want to let you off even for a couple minutes as they are usually chronically late. If you smoke, get on the patch or otherwise quit because there may only be an opportunity once a day to get off the train.

    Fresh air is another problem, there isn't a lot of it. Ventilation in the coaches is relatively poor, and it tends to smell of humanity. Don't be surprised if the young mother sitting across from you just decides to change her baby right then and there. VIA sells children's seats in Economy for $25 in the summer months, so there can be lots of young families on-board as it is a very economical choice compared to airlines.

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    1. Thanks for providing the latest info Mark!

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  9. If you're older/elderly, there will likely be very few people your age in Economy. If you're younger, then there will likely be very few people your age in the Sleeping class. Plan accordingly if you're looking to socialize. Its a very "different" class of people who take long-haul VIA economy. I wouldn't say lower class/trailer trash, but certainly not upper class at all. I met some incredibly intellectually interesting people from various walks of life. Many dealt very different hands in life, whether the adventuresome backpacker types from Europe on cross-Canada passes, Halifax-Vancouver, or simply the young francophone family from Sherbrooke wanting to see the Rockies for the first time (hint: brush up on your French!).

    Showers -- none for Economy. One has to pay for an Upper Berth or better to gain access to a shower. On the bright side, everyone else in Economy is in the same boat, so not looking one's best is basically a communal experience.

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  10. Appreciate you sharing your experiences Mark

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    1. No problem, I actually used your blog as part of my decision to take the train. Glad I did; I hope I don't imply it was a negative experience because it really wasn't. Except for the delays which brought some passengers a lot of frustration if they had onwards plans (one guy I met had a flight to India scheduled the day of arrival in Vancouver, and he was understandably quite panicked!).

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  11. An additional note -- those bags you see stuffed into the seats are *not* suitable for vomit. Found this out the hard way, which is something to keep in mind if one has never ridden a long train like the Canadian over the prairies. If you have the misfortune of needing to vomit in one, get it to the trash as quickly and as carefully as possible as it will likely only hold for a short period of time before the paper fails and creates a giant mess. Which brings me to another problem of riding in Economy with a long train behind you (the Canadian can be up to 30 cars at times!) -- the train tends to move forward as slack is taken out of the couplers, and then be jerked back as the slack is removed but the engines must start moving the entire weight of the train. I have never been sick on a moving vehicle before getting on the Canadian, so carrying some sort of motion sickness tablets might be a good idea (also as a sleep aid!). The horn and the low-rumble vibration of the engines is also quite noticeable in Economy compared to being in one of the aft sleeping cars.

    A few people have asked me about alcohol and sneaking it in Economy. Easy to do if done in a discrete manner as the limited number of staff cannot possibly monitor every beverage a person consumes. However, with as much shaking as the train performs, an incredibly unwise idea unless one knows their tolerance to the strange vibrations of the train and how alcohol might interfere with that.

    When I was aboard, some of the passengers asked about Wi-Fi. Some of the cars are equipped with an access point, but the access point is set up only to work when the cars are used in Corridor service. On the Canadian, the access point does not deliver working Internet. The only realistic way to access the Internet is through a 3G/4G Cell Data plan through a carrier such as Bell or Telus. The train travels for a good day outside of coverage areas in Northern Ontario, and again in BC. Reception in the mountains is spotty as cell coverage is largely geared towards meeting the needs of highway users, not train users. Additionally the stainless steel cars themselves can act to block the signal. So don't rely upon having Cell or Internet access for your time on the Canadian. And Wi-Fi in the stations is largely non-existent or non-functional, especially when hundreds of people attempt to use the same resources simultaneously when de-training.

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  12. Is there any onboard entertainment for economy class if you have a tablet or cell phone to view on?

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