Traveling by train with VIA Rail Canada

via rail 2 Taking the train reminds me a lot of my childhoold, of the time I spent in Europe, and of many good things. I couldn’t help but be giddy as the VIA Rail Canada train I was on traversed the all the way from Nanaimo to Courtenay this past December. I live relatively near by the Pacific Central Station (near the Main Street/Science World Skytrain station) and thus, I had some basic idea of some of the routes that VIA Rail services (side note – I’m VERY impressed with how much history is posted on the VIA Rail website – they are also on Twitter – and it should be noted that the Pacific Central Station has wireless service).

More information on VIA Rail Canada:

VIA Rail Canada operates the national passenger rail service on behalf of the Government of Canada. An independent Crown Corporation established in 1977, the company provides Canadians with safe, efficient and environmentally responsible public transportation. VIA consistently ranks as one of the most trusted transportation companies in Canada. In Leger Marketing’s 2007 Top 100 Companies in Canada survey, VIA ranked 2nd among transportation companies and enjoyed the largest increase in reputation score.

VIA operates up to 503 trains weekly on 12,500 kilometres of track, and serves 450 communities across the country, from coast to coast and north to Hudson Bay. VIA carried close to 4.2 million customers in 2007.

VIA’s fleet includes 396 passenger cars and 78 active locomotives. In addition to 159 railway stations, VIA operates four modern maintenance facilities, and employs some 3,000 people. While VIA owns 223 kilometres of track, most of the infrastructure used by the passenger service is owned and managed by the freight railways, including ten different national and short-line operators.

When I took the train from Nanaimo to Courtenay, I was a bit disappointed to see that the Nanaimo train station was being rebuilt. But having previously visited Qualicum Beach and seen the train station, I felt comforted as the train passed by a familiar station.

Qualicum Beach highlights

VIA Rail I will fully confess that I was probably more excited about my train travel than some of the young kids who took the train (it’s well used, and from what I heard in my conversations with passengers, passing by train through the Malahat region is amazing (the Courtenay-Victoria train used to be called Malahat, according to this Wikipedia entry)

For me, taking the train was a no-brainer. It was an inexpensive, safe and lovely ride from Nanaimo to Courtenay and then back to Parksville. Next time I do a similar trip, I’ll begin in Victoria, for sure.


Disclosure: My travel expenses during my recent Vancouver Island writing retreat (which included stops in Victoria, Courtenay/Comox, Nanaimo and Parksville/Qualicum Beach) were paid out of my own pocket. I wasn’t paid to write this review, nor was I required to do so either. The purpose of this blog entry is just to describe my experience using the VIA Rail train service. In any review I write or publish on my site, I retain editorial control at all times. Should you have any questions/concern feel free to contact me via e-mail through my contact form.

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Comments (3)

Chris (@lyteforce)February 2nd, 2011 at 3:00 pm

I’m almost embarrassed to say I’ve never been on a train domestically. The thought of taking the VIA train out of Vancouver or the Rocky Mountaineer has occasionally crossed my mind, but I’ve just never gotten around to it. And I’m sure I’d be happier than most of the kids too.
Chris (@lyteforce) recently posted..Dine Out Vancouver 2011

Vivian, VIA’s virtual tour guideFebruary 21st, 2011 at 5:38 am

It’s always a treat when I get to ride the Courtenay-Victoria route – the views certainly are spectacular!

If you get a chance, try branching off from the train route for a visit to Cathedral Grove or storm watching in Tofino, both highlights from my last trip: http://www.vivianisvirtual.ca/2010/12/20/canadas-winter-gem-victoria-vancouver-island-favourites/

Susan LowApril 26th, 2011 at 8:28 am

Alas, the “Dayliner” as we Victoria locals know it, has been discontinued because the rails were not being properly maintained for safety. And the train will no longer come across the Johnson Street Bridge into the Victoria downtown core because of the bridge rebuilding project.

This is not just a pity for nostalgic reasons – the Dayliner was a transportation link that I used several times for business travel to Courtenay when I didn’t want to drive!
Susan Low recently posted..Using Strategic Planning to Make a Family-Friendly Business

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