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DO NOT ride “The Canadian” Train—IT IS DANGEROUS!


May 28th, 2018, 10:51 AM
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Join Date: May 2015
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DO NOT ride “The Canadian” Train—IT IS DANGEROUS!

My wife & I rode VIA Rail Canada Train No. 2, “The Canadian,” leaving Vancouver on 4/29/18, booked through to Toronto, in a “Prestige Class” bedroom, costing $7,000.00. We were UTTERLY DISAPPOINTED and strongly advise others to not fall for the HYPE and nostalgic praise that is heaped upon this once great train ride. The train cars were built in the 1950’s and even though they have been upgraded over the years, they do not ride like more modern passenger cars. In addition, the tracks that “The Canadian” runs on are owned by the Canadian National Railroad, and they give priority to their thousands of GIGANTIC, 150+ car freight trains, meaning that “The Canadian” is stuck on sidings, waiting for the NUMEROUS freight trains to pass. This results in “The Canadian” almost always running very late. Our train left Vancouver FOUR HOURS LATE and things got worse from there. The HUGE problem however, is not that the train runs late—as disturbing as that may be—but WHAT HAPPENS then. When the engineer gets open track in front of them, they OPEN UP THE THROTTLE, running the train as fast as they can. The old fashioned passenger cars, riding over lumpy, wavy track that is constantly beat up by the very heavy freight trains, SWAY, LUNGE, BOUNCE and LURCH VIOLENTLY, resulting in a VERY UNCOMFORTABLE and a VERY SCARY and UNSAFE ride for the passengers. During one meal in the dining car, the Chief Steward was pouring me a cup of coffee, when he DUMPED the entire cup of scalding hot coffee all over our table, just missing my wife and I. He then joked about it. During one dinner service, the train was going SO FAST and JUMPING AROUND SO VIOLENTLY, that adult passengers were SCREAMING! Shouts of PROFANITY were heard! They were serving wine in water glasses, as traditional wine glasses were not stable enough to withstand the HORRIBLE, SCARY GYRATIONS of the dining car at speed. When I told our waiter that the engineer should be informed that the train was going TOO FAST, his EXACT words to me were: “We call the engineer every ten minutes and tell them to slow down, but they tell us that they NEED TO MAKE UP TIME!” Well, there it is: it is more important to “make up time,” than to give the passengers a safe and pleasant ride! We could not sleep in our VERY EXPENSIVE cabin. I was scared every night and my wife was SHAKING WITH FEAR, as we worried that the train would derail and we would be killed or severely injured. Please note that we have ridden trains at over 150mph in Europe and have no problem going very fast on railroads, WHEN the equipment and conditions are proper. Anyway, the train was running NINETEEN HOURS LATE as we arrived in Winnipeg, so with heavy hearts, we decided to leave the train there and to just fly home, our very expensive “Vacation of a Lifetime” in ruins. With the train 19 hours late, we did not wish to experience what sort of “making up time” measures the engineers had in store for us over the remainder of our trip. I attribute our horrible experience to the UNPROFESSIONAL, UNCARING and UTTERLY DANGEROUS operation of this once fabled Train by VIA Rail Canada. You can read the full story at VIARailDangerous.com. YOU REALLY DONT WANT TO BOOK A TRIP ON “The Canadian, not anymore.
Streamliner is offline  
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May 28th, 2018, 01:00 PM
Join Date: Oct 2013
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The Canadian is run by Via Rail, which does NOT own the tracks. The tracks are owned (and maintained) by the freight train companies (CP, CN etc), and so they have priority. ViaRail is very up front about this reality and the possibility of delays - four hours is fairly standard. Some very long delays have made the news lately and it sounds like increases in freight mean that longer delays may become the increasing norm.

Certainly not all Canadian trips go without some snafus, but I've never heard of any of their trains having any accidents with injuries in recent memories. Or any real accidents at all. Usually incidents have to do with snow on the tracks (or some other track incursion). Nor have I heard of anyone who was scared by the the ride. No train ride is going to be perfectly smooth or without incident - I've taken sleepers in Europe and would hardly describe those as being very smooth (or always on time).

The tracks are not new, and if you're expecting a ride along the level of (some) European trains, then you have have false expectations. Distances and freight realities here mean that passenger train travel here is the exception, not the norm and long, hard winters, plus spring thaws & flooding mean a lot of wear and tear on tracks.

Honestly, if you're spending $7000 for a train ride, I'd be inclined to do some serious research. There are plenty of reviews online, not all positive, and they certainly would have made clear the potential for delays.
kgsneds is offline  
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May 29th, 2018, 11:31 PM
Join Date: Sep 2010
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Actually the roadbed has been upgraded in many places by CN. I think, having taken this train six different times over the years, the quality of the ride has been exaggerated by the OP. Four hours late leaving Vancouver was certainly an exception in my experience; being hours late into Toronto is, unfortunately not. The driver does not exceed the speed limits which is one reason these delays DO make a difference and yes, VIARail has been very upfront about the delay potential.
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Jun 2nd, 2018, 10:08 AM
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Sounds like the trip on Amtrak I took from Chicago to Emeryville. The trip was so shaky, I had to take travel sickness pills.
Dayenu is online now  
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Jun 20th, 2018, 12:59 PM
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Why do people come to Fodors to first admit how foolish they were and then try to blame their own foolishness on some company?

Who signs-on for a train ride costing $7000 ???

Trains simply cannot GO as far as a $7000 fare would warrant going. You can figure out as much in 4th grade geography.
NorthwestMale is offline  
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Jun 20th, 2018, 06:12 PM
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Actually, $7,000 is cheap compared to some of the luxury trains.

See, for instance, The Trans-Siberian Express - The world's greatest railway journey
thursdaysd is online now  
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Jun 22nd, 2018, 05:27 PM
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It actually sounds like fun but not for the old & infirm.
Sam_Salmon is offline  
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Jun 23rd, 2018, 10:42 PM
Join Date: Aug 2011
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Ive never heard of that train crashing or loss of lives.. perhaps feeling like you are in danger is not the same as being in danger.

Frankly I cant imagine spending days being terrified and shaking in fear.. seems a bit much.. most folks take the train for scenery and nostalgia.. they realize its not a highspeed europeon train experience.
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