• Newbie to Riding VIA Rail's Canadian

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in Canada. For specific railroad questions, see Fallen Flags and Active Railroads categories.
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in Canada. For specific railroad questions, see Fallen Flags and Active Railroads categories.

Moderator: Ken V

  by njtmnrrbuff
About a year from now, a friend and I are considering taking the westbound VIA Rail Canadian train in its entirety. My friend rode the entire eastbound Canadian years ago but I haven't ridden the Canadian at all. I have some questions.
1. At what points of the Canadian route do the westbound and eastbound segments split? I know that one of the segments is between Kamloops and Toronto. Are there any other segments of the Canadian route where the east and west split?
2. Where are the best railfanning points of interests to view from the train?
  by Fritz
The Canadian is an amazing train ride with incredible service. I've ridden several times (both eastbound and westbound) and have always enjoyed the trips.

There's at least two areas of directional running: 1) between Toronto and Sudbury, Ontario and between Kamloops and Vancouver, British Columbia. Others can likely provide more specifics such as actual station names and mileposts where the directional running begins and ends.

As far as scenery, obviously the Canadian Rockies are the highlight but I like the forests of northern Ontario and the prairies of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta too.
Enjoy a great trip,
  by njtmnrrbuff
Thanks again. Yes, in addition to the separate routing from Kamloops North to Vancouver and vice versa, both the westbound and the eastbound trains take different routings between Toronto and Sudbury Jct. I can see that because according to the timetable, it looks like Eastbound VIA Train # 2 serves Parry Sound on the CN trackage while the westbound Train # 1 runs on CP Rail. What is the reason for the eastbound and westbound not sharing the same right of way?

I have heard plenty of great things about the scenery. I look forward to taking pictures of the scenery from the trains along with one end of the train while I am sitting in the other. I want to ride the VIA heritage equipment as much as possible before it is all retired. I believe that the Canadian government will be looking at replacement options for the VIA long distance trains fairly soon.
  by ExCon90
Regarding the split from Sudbury Jct. east, I've been told it's to save turning the train at Toronto, although there may be more to it than that.
  by Fritz
I think that, in both cases, the use of different routes eastbound and westbound are due to the fact that the host railroads (CN and CP in both instances) have trackage rights on each others' lines, so that they can use directional running to run their freights. That is, they use one line for eastbounds and the other line for westbounds. To maintain the flow of traffic, the Canadian follows the same patterns. As you noted, this sometimes requires them to use different stations eastbound and westbound.

One great thing about the Canadian is the Budd dome cars (I think VIA calls them Skylines). In my view, they are best place for taking photos looking both forward and to the rear (as well as to the side), as you can get photos with your train in the foreground and other trains or scenery in the background. They are simply the best!
  by njtmnrrbuff
It sounds like those different routes that the eastbound and westbound take always happen when the train is running. I can certainly understand the reason for the different route running being that VIA doesn't want to wye the Canadian set. It's a long set during the off season a million times longer during the peak season. I look forward to riding those Budd Dome cars. I know that they might not be around forever along with the rest of the HEP fleet so I want to ride them as much as possible.