The Canadian: the train, that is - Finally riding my dream - CycleBlaze

The Canadian: the train, that is

I depart today on The Canadian, the Via Rail train which runs between Vancouver and Toronto. I'm only going as far as Jasper, though, so hopefully the train won't get too delayed on its first day. The scheduled departure is noon, with arrival in Jasper at 0800 tomorrow.

This will be the second train with the new schedule; the first was on Friday. The schedule was changed with the hope that trains will have a better chance of sticking to it. Via Rail was created in the 1970s, merging the passenger services of Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railways, leaving those two big companies to focus on freight--and control the tracks. Since Via doesn't own or control its own tracks, trains are constantly being forced to move onto sidings to allow freight trains to pass. Hence its fame for always being late. At least the company acknowledges this. When you book travel, there are disclaimers on every page about the possibility of delay.

Even if it runs on time, it will be 19 hours on the train from here to Jasper. I could fly from Vancouver to Europe twice in that time! I hope the economy seats are comfortable. Since it's overnight, I would have booked a berth, but the least expensive is *four times* the cost of an economy seat. All berth tickets include meals, but I couldn't bring myself to spend $600 for on this leg of the trip.

To be continued (from the train if there's wifi).

Well, there is no wifi on The Canadian. I’m adding the following from a coffee shop in Jasper.

We left Vancouver shortly after noon and it’s now 5 p.m. I’m sitting on the upper level of the observation car, which I moved to as we passed through Yale. A few minutes ago we passed the Alexandra Bridge, but it’s impossible to see the old bridge clearly through the trees. Drat! One of these days I’ll get to see it again; you sent see it from the highway either.

Bikes need to be in a case or box on this train. Since my case was to be transported to Calgary by my sister for my flight back (she's driving out), I used a box for the Vancouver to Jasper leg. Purchased from Via at the station for $25 and they even provided the tape (loaded on a fancy dispenser) and help holding the box straight while I taped it. Remove pedals (loosened at home), turn handlebar, roll in. Easy!
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Looking forward in the Skyline Car
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and looking back.
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So far the train has been quite comfortable but I’m only 5 hours in...
Dinner was not bad, on a par with BC Ferries, but served in takeout containers with only plastic utensils. I had baked salmon with a wild rice blend and veg, accompanied by a craft beer (from Manitoba) since they were out of wine.

Sleeping in my seat was much better than expected. I had a pair of seats to myself, as did all the solo travellers I noticed. The seats recline and you can raise a footrest, almost like a recliner chair. I was glad I’d decided to bring my sleeping bag, though I only used it as a partial cover. I got much more sleep than I would on an airplane, but not really a full night.

My seat. The train wasn't full so solo travellers like me got two seats to themselves. I could curl up to sleep; much better than on a plane.
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We arrived in Jasper ahead of schedule! Off to find breakfast and start my ride.

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