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

Moderator: Ken V

  by Mike123
I'm completely new to this board and to the Canadian as well (actually never travelled by train in North America).

My wife and I are considering taking the Canadian this year on Dec 31st from Jasper to Vancouver.

Since I haven't found any information on New Years Eve on this train on the internet, I wanted to ask if someone
here knows, if there's anything special happening due to this event (special dinner, some kind of celebration,...)
or will it just be a regular train ride?

Furthermore I wanted to ask for past passengers' experiences with this train in Winter. Is the scenery good
in winter? is there even anytthing to see or will it be mostly dark outside?

Is there anything else I should be aware of?

Thanks a lot in advance,

  by marquisofmississauga
A few years ago my wife and I boarded the eastbound Canadian in Edmonton on New Year's Eve, bound for Toronto. We had a friend who was on board from Vancouver. We booked the drawing room in the Park car for a splurge. There was a special dining car menu for that evening. There was less choice than normal, but one extra course and the meal was excellent. A bottle of "floor-stripper liquid," which VIA called champagne, was put on each table. It is the same rubbish they serve at bon voyage receptions, but it was a nice gesture and we were good sports and had a bit - but not too much. The four people at our table could not finish the 750 ml. bottle. Fortunately our friend had surprised us with a bottle of the real thing and it was chilling in our drawing room.

As midnight approached the Park car attendant uncorked a seemingly unlimited supply of this fizz. By the way, I'm not knocking Canadian wines, per se. Canada produces many excellent wines, but cheap bubbly is not one of them. The Park car was decorated in a festive fashion and large sturdy party hats were given out. Repetitious pop music was played close to midnight and this continued for a while past midnight. The drawing room in the Park car is the closest accommodation to the action and was not as noisy as I thought it would be, but in any event we were thankful for the ear-plugs which VIA provides. If I ever hear "YMCA" again it will be too soon! I read a trip report by a railfan who was going in the opposite direction on New Year's Eve. He said that at the stroke of midnight the Canadian, British and Australian passengers sang "God Save the Queen" and when I heard that I wish I had being going with them.

None of these special activities was advertised so it was a bit of a surprise, although a VIA manager friend of mine in Winnipeg told me to expect a special dinner. There is no guarantee, of course, that this tradition will continue. A query to VIA might be in order if this is important to you.

As for winter train travel, there is little daylight until late in the season. January is grim for viewing scenery. I have notes from one January trip that indicated it didn't get light until 0900 and was dark by 1600. So you will enjoy the scenery from the diner only at lunch. Time-keeping on the Canadian is "iffy" at the best of time and is certainly not more reliable in winter than the other seasons. It would be wise not to make any important plans for the day of arrival.