MONTREAL – VIA Rail is an independent Canadian corporation that offers passenger rail service in eight provinces.
The railroad operates 480 trains over a roughly 8,700-mile network and carries roughly 4 million passengers annually. VIA Rail operates in every province except Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island.
In November 2001, VIA purchased 21 new Genesis P42 passenger locomotives, built by General Electric Transportation Systems.
The new locomotives are designed and built for reliable, high-speed service. Capable of speeds of up to 110 mph, the locomotives have proven themselves in the field – in the US, Amtrak operates some 120 Genesis locomotives, and recently ordered an additional 80 units.
Here are some of VIA Rail’s trains that operate in Western Canada:
- The Canadian: VIA’s legendary transcontinental train, the Canadian, has been a fundamental part of Western Canada’s travel and tourism infrastructure for many years. Year-round, the train runs thrice-weekly between Vancouver and Toronto, with stops at Kamloops, Jasper, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg and Sudbury Junction. The Canadian caters mainly to domestic and foreign tourism markets. It was recently named one of the top five “Great Journeys of the World” by National Geographic, and one of the “Best Rail Experiences of the World” by the International Railway Traveler. VIA’s exquisite Silver & Blue class service on the Canadian is one of the most sought-after vacations in North America.
- The Skeena: Serving the northern reaches of British Columbia, the Skeena leaves Jasper, Alberta three times weekly for a two-day journey through some of the most breathtaking scenery in Canada. The 1,160 kilometre/725 mile trip to Prince Rupert is scheduled to allow passengers maximum daylight travel time, and includes a night in Prince George as part of the itinerary. Connection to and from BC Rail are available at Prince George. From Prince Rupert, connections are available by ferry to Alaska, the Queen Charlotte Islands and Vancouver Island. Connections to the Canadian transcontinental train are available at Jasper.
- The Malahat: The Malahat provides daily round-trip passenger service along the east coast of Vancouver Island between Victoria, at the southernmost tip, to Courtenay in the north. The train passes over the scenic Malahat Canyon and makes stops in Chemainus, Nanaimo, Parksville and Qualicum Beach on its four and a half hour journey.
- The Hudson Bay: The Hudson Bay takes passengers on a 1,700 kilometre trip from Winnipeg to Churchill, on the sub arctic shores of Hudson Bay, with service to Lynn Lake from The Pas midway along the route. Churchill is famous for its polar bears and for offering unparalleled views of the aurora borealis, or Northern Lights. The Hudson Bay is the only overland means of reaching many communities along its route, and is very popular with adventure tourists. Sleeping accommodations are available for the two-night journey on VIA’s Northern Spirit sleeping cars, which include single and double bedrooms.