scenery and season--Canadian or Skeena?

Discussion of Canadian Passenger Rail Services such as AMT (Montreal), Go Transit (Toronto), VIA Rail, and other Canadian Railways and Transit

Moderator: Ken V

scenery and season--Canadian or Skeena?

Postby Tricia » Thu May 24, 2012 10:33 am

Planning a first-time VIA Rail Rockies trip, and hoping readers of this forum will advise on these questions:

---Is the scenery better on the Canadian between Jasper and Vancouver, or on the Skeena route between Jasper and Prince Rupert?

---Either better in one direction or the other?

---August or September? Or ???

There are probably a variety of pros and cons involved with this, as well as different preferences. Please let me know what you think, based on your own experience.

Thanks!
Tricia
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 10:23 am

Re: scenery and season--Canadian or Skeena?

Postby jp1822 » Thu May 24, 2012 9:10 pm

If you are after mountain scenery for two days through the heart of British Columbia - along with some other great scenery - I'd go for the Skeena (or the train to Prince Rupert). See if you could spring for the "Touring Class" where you'd get access to the Park Car and have cold meals at least. Service used to be better in years past where I'd recommed this route in a heartbeat, but considering the scenery and the fact that it still has a dome in tow, I'd still try the experience of this train.

Course you could take the Canadian from Vancouver to Jasper (day-time scenery through the mountains between Kamloops and Jasper at least), spend a couple of days in Jasper, and then take the Skeena to Prince Rupert (flying back to Vancouver from Prince Rupert). I've done this route a couple of times. Air Canada served Prince Rupert and their one-way fares were pretty reasonable.
jp1822
 
Posts: 3709
Joined: Sun Apr 18, 2004 10:03 pm
Location: New York, NY

Re: scenery and season--Canadian or Skeena?

Postby Mark0f0 » Thu Aug 11, 2016 12:46 am

Skeena is guaranteed to be mostly daylight, except if you are significantly delayed and/or it is in the winter. Going westbound, the extremely scenic segment Terrace-Prince Rupert would almost always be in the darkness in the winter. Eastbound would be my recommendation if you are doing it in the winter so you at least get to experience the lower Skeena in the daylight.

The Jasper-Vancouver segment on the Canadian is scheduled overnight, so no matter what, there will be significant darkness. And you pay quite a fortune for that sleeper car versus picking up a hotel room at Prince George which usually isn't a problem for $100. If you are YVR-based, you could catch a flight on Jazz (or Hawkair) to Prince Rupert/Digby Island, tour around, take the Skeena train to Jasper, and do the hotel room in Prince George for less money than VIA wants for the overnight sleeper train to Jasper.

Touring class isn't worth it (IMHO), but one trainset a week each way is configured all-economy usually with a Park car which economy passengers have free reign of. This is the best compromise possible (when Touring class is offered, there is no access to the Park car for economy passengers!).
Mark0f0
 
Posts: 34
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2016 8:19 pm

Re: scenery and season--Canadian or Skeena?

Postby Mark0f0 » Thu Aug 11, 2016 12:53 am

As far as scenery, in August, its still summer. Leaves would be turning colour end of September/early October. Late October/November/December probably aren't that scenic. January/February would be guaranteed snow cover. March-May, kind of bland as well.

I liked my trip so much last summer I am going to try booking to go back in the fall season, and again in the dead of winter. Its cheap enough to do the train. Would like to stopover in Terrace and see the lava pits in the Nis'ga park. As well as look into cycling, boating, and white water rafting options. Those might be more summer activities though.
Mark0f0
 
Posts: 34
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2016 8:19 pm

Re: scenery and season--Canadian or Skeena?

Postby dougster66 » Tue Dec 27, 2016 2:51 pm

I took the Canadian from Edmonton to Vancouver (#1) in fall of 2015 and the Skeena (#5 and #6) round-trip this October. The Canadian was 8 hours late arriving so we were in Jasper at 2100 so all the mountain scenery was in dusk/darkness.

Advantage: Skeena since it leaves Jasper at 1245 to get you through the Rockies and onward to PG in the evening. The second leg (PG-PR) is fabulous, especially after Terrace.

I'd take the Canadian if you want/need to go to Vancouver and if you want/need services. The one downside I found to the Skeena was the near lack of any food service - while you *can* get "assorted sandwiches" from the Park car (off-season and/or when Touring not running), these sandwiches are of gas station quality... Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the bridges, valleys and meadows.
dougster66
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Dec 03, 2016 12:09 am

Re: scenery and season--Canadian or Skeena?

Postby jp1822 » Sun Jan 01, 2017 6:40 pm

Should have taken the Skeena's Touring Class when the Panorama car is offered. Night and day experience. Food and beverages provided for this experience, much like Rocky Mountaineer. I know that service quality and such changes over time, but there was nothing like enjoying a shrimp cocktail with a glass of wine while gazing out the panoramic windows as we passed by Yellowhead Lake and watched caribou sporadically show up alongside the opposite side of the train. You get to see this sooo much better in the Panorama car and of course the food is served at your seat by an attendant. VIA needs to market this route better than what it does as it is really a hidden jewel. I had two seats to myself while onboard, and sat about 3/4 of the way back from the front of the car. Ideal spot!
jp1822
 
Posts: 3709
Joined: Sun Apr 18, 2004 10:03 pm
Location: New York, NY

Re: scenery and season--Canadian or Skeena?

Postby Mark0f0 » Mon Jan 02, 2017 9:03 pm

jp1822 wrote:Should have taken the Skeena's Touring Class when the Panorama car is offered. Night and day experience. Food and beverages provided for this experience, much like Rocky Mountaineer.


The food really wasn't very good when I was on. Much better value merely booking a departure from Jasper or Prince Rupert that doesn't have the Panorama car. When this is the case, you can go to the Park car for free for the dome experience.

Its not that bad of a ride in Economy either.

Prices for the "Touring" service are up quite a bit this year. Jasper-Prince Rupert was $400-$450 or so last year. The VIA site is quoting at closer to $800 this year. Even in Economy, the Jasper tour operators book up lots of the train until Dunster or Robson, but as soon as that station is hit, the (mostly Chinese) tourists empty onto their buses back to Jasper, and Economy runs empty. If you try to buy a 'through' seat in Economy, it can be expensive as the cheap fares are sold out

Also, finding a room in Jasper during the summer can be incredibly expensive (my room was $320/night and must've been a 2 mile walk from the station!). And there's no same-day connection with the Canadian, so you'll have to spend at least one night there.

I know that service quality and such changes over time, but there was nothing like enjoying a shrimp cocktail with a glass of wine while gazing out the panoramic windows as we passed by Yellowhead Lake and watched caribou sporadically show up alongside the opposite side of the train. You get to see this sooo much better in the Panorama car and of course the food is served at your seat by an attendant. VIA needs to market this route better than what it does as it is really a hidden jewel. I had two seats to myself while onboard, and sat about 3/4 of the way back from the front of the car. Ideal spot!


Agree completely that its very much under-appreciated. When I do it again, I will probably book a stopover at Terrace, rent a car, and visit the lava pits at Nis'ga Provincial Park. Maybe a white water rafting trip as well. There's a lot of eco-tourism potential in that area.
Mark0f0
 
Posts: 34
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2016 8:19 pm


Return to Canadian Passenger Operations: AMT, Go Transit, VIA, etc.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests