coach reservations on The Canadian

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coach reservations on The Canadian

Postby bill haithcoat » Mon Jun 14, 2004 3:34 pm

Though I will be in sleeper on my upcoming "Canadian trip", I am curious about coach reservations.

Are coach seats reserved at the time of reservation for a specific car and number? Such as seat 20, car 5?


It used to be that way in the U.S, and, I suppose, Canada. But now, under Amtrak, there are no specific seat assignments made at the time the reservation is made. Sometimes you are directed to a specifc seat as you board but that is not what I am talking about.

How is it done in Canada, esp. on the Canadian?
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Postby downbeat » Tue Jun 15, 2004 12:07 am

From what I understand, a coach/Comfort-class ticket on the Canadian means you will have a seat, but there is no specific assignment (first-come, first-served).
However, a few Corridor trains offer reserved, assigned seating (notably all 20-series Montreal-Quebec City and #66 /67, Montreal-Toronto Express).
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Postby Ken V » Wed Jun 16, 2004 8:40 pm

Downbeat is correct. Generally speaking, VIA does not assign coach seats, either when booking or boarding. You can take whatever available seat you want within the coach (or coaches) you are directed to board. The exceptions are in the corridor, with VIA1 first class coach accomodation and on the few trains that have assigned Ecomomy seats. In this case, your seat is selected when you book your reservation.
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Postby rubensfan » Sat Jun 19, 2004 10:17 am

i rode the canadian two weeks ago. many sleeping cars but only two coaches. from toronto to sudbury jct there coulldn't have been more than 25 coach passengers. seats are not reserved.
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Re: coach reservations on The Canadian

Postby Mark0f0 » Wed Oct 26, 2016 11:50 pm

The only 'rule' I was given when on "The Canadian" was that the groups of 4 seats facing each other were intended for 2 passengers or more. The sector I was on overnight was Saskatoon-Edmonton, and the conductor didn't scold me for taking ~4 hours in a group of 4. But I was fully prepared to get the boot if anyone wanted the seats.
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Re: coach reservations on The Canadian

Postby jp1822 » Sat Oct 29, 2016 11:31 pm

When I vacationed a lot in Canada from 2000 to around 2010 (when it had the schedule before the one it has now) I remember that there always seemed to be a LOT of passengers in coach or those riding in sleeper class - using berths as day use - travelling from Toronto to Sudbury Junction or Capreol. I was always surprised by this. We even stopped at Parry Sound - largely for coach passengers.

But with the current schedule, that market has seemed to have faded away and dried up. And there seemed to always be at least TWO coaches - even in the off season. Now in the off season there's largely just ONE coach!

Speaking of "coaches" I wish VIA would bring the Panorama coaches (or single level domes) to Toronto or Montreal and operate it on a mixture of corridor trains or the Quebec trains. I have seen VIA use it as a coach on the Train to Prince Rupert in the offseason when visiting Jasper in January right after New Year's. Looked so weird - engine and just the Panorama coach (with passengers) heading off to Prince George. They didn't even have a baggage car and frankly I don't think the train to Prince Rupert operates with a baggage car in the off-season.
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Re: coach reservations on The Canadian

Postby Mark0f0 » Mon Oct 31, 2016 8:59 pm

jp1822 wrote:When I vacationed a lot in Canada from 2000 to around 2010 (when it had the schedule before the one it has now) I remember that there always seemed to be a LOT of passengers in coach or those riding in sleeper class - using berths as day use - travelling from Toronto to Sudbury Junction or Capreol. I was always surprised by this. We even stopped at Parry Sound - largely for coach passengers.


Maybe the pricing was more reasonable back then? I know VIA used to run short-term sell-offs where the Berths were 1/3 to 1/4 of the 'normal' price. But now they only run, at best, half price specials, and they're not really available at a reasonable price on the shorter sectors. It would appear that VIA wants to sell the sleepers for the whole Toronto-Vancouver run, nothing more, nothing less.

Speaking of "coaches" I wish VIA would bring the Panorama coaches (or single level domes) to Toronto or Montreal and operate it on a mixture of corridor trains or the Quebec trains. I have seen VIA use it as a coach on the Train to Prince Rupert in the offseason when visiting Jasper in January right after New Year's. Looked so weird - engine and just the Panorama coach (with passengers) heading off to Prince George. They didn't even have a baggage car and frankly I don't think the train to Prince Rupert operates with a baggage car in the off-season.


Even in the summer, half of them run just a coach and a Park car I think. I think they try to run a car with some rudimentary food prep year-round, whether it be a Park car/coach combo, or in that case, the Panorama coach with its mini galley.
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Re: coach reservations on The Canadian

Postby Mark0f0 » Thu Dec 15, 2016 7:56 pm

Anyone know if, over the winter months, they allow Economy class passengers to have Dining Car reservations/admission?

I know they used to year-round, with menus and prices even published on the ViaRail website. But that got revamped a couple years ago and definitely no dining car access in the summer. Looking to take The Canadian in the middle of January in economy on a 24-hour segment, a stopover, and a subsequent 8 hour segment. I've heard it gets down to 8 cars sometimes (ie: fp40-2, fp40-2, baggage, coach, skyline, diner, sleeper, sleeper, park).

Also, what happens when you board at one of those small towns with luggage in Economy? Do you schlep your bags into the coach, and the conductor takes them to the baggage car and tags them? Or do you have to store it in the racks until you get to a station to check it?
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Re: coach reservations on The Canadian

Postby Ken V » Fri Dec 16, 2016 1:16 am

During the off season, when hot meals for economy class are not prepared in the Skyline car, economy passengers will have access to the dining car. Ask one of the staff about getting reservations for lunch and dinner.

I don't know how baggage is handled at the smaller unstaffed stations.
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Re: coach reservations on The Canadian

Postby Mark0f0 » Fri Dec 16, 2016 3:10 pm

Cool. Always wanted to try the dining car (amongst my grandfather's possessions when he passed was a menu from dining on The Canadian in 1956), but paying for an overnight sleeper just is a bit out of my budget. Makes sense that they wouldn't staff the Skyline for meals when there's barely 100 people on the entire train (if even) in the off season. But at 400+ people, I can see why they don't want to open the diner to Economy.
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Re: coach reservations on The Canadian

Postby marquisofmississauga » Sun Dec 18, 2016 9:15 am

Mark0f0 wrote:Anyone know if, over the winter months, they allow Economy class passengers to have Dining Car reservations/admission?

I know they used to year-round, with menus and prices even published on the ViaRail website. But that got revamped a couple years ago and definitely no dining car access in the summer. Looking to take The Canadian in the middle of January in economy on a 24-hour segment, a stopover, and a subsequent 8 hour segment. I've heard it gets down to 8 cars sometimes (ie: fp40-2, fp40-2, baggage, coach, skyline, diner, sleeper, sleeper, park).

Also, what happens when you board at one of those small towns with luggage in Economy? Do you schlep your bags into the coach, and the conductor takes them to the baggage car and tags them? Or do you have to store it in the racks until you get to a station to check it?


From my experience the minimum winter consist is as quoted above up to the Skyline car. Following that are three sleepers (line numbers 10, 11, 12), dining car, Prestige sleeper (30) and Park car (39). If the sleeper load is very light it is possible one of the sleepers may be deadhead for all or part of the trip.

As others have said, dining car access is available for economy passengers for all meals in the off-peak season. Reservations are required for lunch and dinner. Sleeper passengers get first choice, of course, as they have paid for the meals as part of the fare. Although the passenger loads are light, the diner has only half the usual staff so generally only six tables are used so one of the sittings can be full. In peak season when the Skyline car is operated as a diner, economy passengers may use the first of the two dining cars if there is space available. I suspect that is rare!

As far as checked baggage at unstaffed stations, it is usually required for the passenger to bring their luggage to the baggage car and retrieve it upon arrival. The person in charge of the economy coach(es) - I believe that person's title is Assistant Service Co-ordinator - will check the baggage at the door of the baggage car. I don't know if this is still done, but at some stations a local person was hired to assist passengers with their luggage, including providing baggage tags. I have seen it at Sioux Lookout, Melville and other stations, but I haven't noticed it on my more recent trips.
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Re: coach reservations on The Canadian

Postby Mark0f0 » Mon Dec 19, 2016 12:09 pm

Okay, thanks. Looking to do Watrous-Kamloops. So basically brunch, and dinner. And yeah, definitely zero possibility of getting into the dining car proper when I was on it in summer of 2015. They were running behind, and because the policy is to feed Economy passengers when they're late, they were crazily busy going into Jasper even with the Skyline meals.
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