Toronto to Vancouver on VIA Rail.
VIA does a nice job on their trains number 1 and 2, The Canadian, from start to finish. It may help to make some comparisons between VIA’s flagship train and one of Amtrak’s more popular long-distance trains–the California Zephyr, for instance.
Both trains use old equipment, in fact I would guess VIA’s is somewhat older. But VIA’s seems to be better maintained and there is a classic look about the Canadian’s consist that gives the experience a nice touch of nostalgia… at least it does that for me.
VIA’s dining car offers fewer choices, but the dishes are nicely prepared to order and the food is comparable to what you would expect in a good-not-great restaurant. Two nights ago I had a two nicely broiled veal chops.
And it was served on real china, set on a clean white table cloth. There was a modest assortment of wines to accompany the meal and my selections were served in an actual wine glass, not in a plastic cup.
Unfortunately, there is very little VIA can do about late trains. It’s the dispatchers working for the freight railroad who decide when you will finally reach your destination. Slow orders and stops to wait for one of their 175-car, double stacked trains to come lumbering by meant, in our case, arrival into Jasper well after dark. That meant missing much of the ride through the Canadian Rockies.
Ah, well … I guess there will just have to be another time.