I love train travel. The ability to get up and roam freely or take in the scenery as it slowly rolls by is the most relaxing way to travel in my opinion. I have bounced around Europe by rail and taken luxury train trips in Africa and India however, I haven’t spent much time covering Canada by train. So, when a friend wanted to take a last-minute VIA Rail Vancouver to Edmonton overnight excursion, I jumped at it.
Come along as I share my train travel experience through some of Canada’s prettiest parts. From what the berths are like to the food and views, this is my VIA Rail Vancouver to Edmonton Sleeper Class Plus review.
VIA Rail Vancouver to Edmonton Tickets
Before diving into this VIA Rail Vancouver to Edmonton review, let’s look at the various classes on VIA Rail along with how I got tickets for this last-minute trip.
VIA Rail Classes
VIA Rail’s “The Canadian”
- Sleeper Plus Class: This class includes various cabin options like Roomettes (compact cabins for one or two people), Bedrooms (more spacious cabins with private bathrooms), and Prestige Class (premium cabins offering enhanced amenities, larger spaces, and exclusive services). Meals are inclusive with Sleeper Plus Class and passengers also have access to the Prestige lounge and observation car.
- Economy Class: This class provides reclining seats for passengers on a tighter budget. Passengers in Economy Class can access the Skyline Car, which often includes panoramic dome windows for enjoying the scenic views along the journey.
VIA Rail Vancouver to Edmonton Sleeper Class
For my VIA Rail Vancouver to Edmonton trip, I opted for a lower berth in Sleeper Class Plus. In my opinion, this offers the best value as it is one of the most affordable options in the class (the upper berth is slightly cheaper as it does not have a window) and still gets you meals and a bed.
The only downside is, unlike a VIA Rail sleeper cabin for 2 or 1, you don’t have a private washroom. That said, as highlighted in my post on things that VIA doesn’t tell you but should, those cabins are tiny meaning you sleep ontop of the toilet. So…
I picked up discounted fares listed on the VIA Rail site and, before taxes, I paid $397 for the lower berth and $337 for the upper berth. This was a heavy discount as the regular posted rates are currently $794 and $675 for the same seats. In comparison, a VIA Rail sleeper cabin for 2 will run you $1,796 and a Prestige cabin for 2 will cost a whopping $4,040 at full price.
Trains depart Vancouver Central Station twice a week (Fridays and Sundays) at 15:00.
VIA Rail Edmonton to Vancouver Sleeper Class
If you are looking at doing the journey in reverse, VIA Rail Edmonton to Vancouver trains depart Wednesdays and Saturdays at 12:01 AM. Due to the time and the fact that trains are often late, I don’t recommend this route. Vancouver, being a terminus station, is less likely to have delays.
That said, if you need to take this route, I highly recommend booking a VIA Rail Edmonton to Vancouver Sleeper Class ticket given you are boarding in the middle of the night.
Tickets in hand, we departed for the Pacific Central Station in Vancouver. Unlike heading to an airport, no two-hour arrival is required, just show up 30 minutes prior to departure and walk on. Have I mentioned I love train travel?
I should note that Sleeper Class Plus does include access to the VIA Rail lounge in Vancouver however, from my experience at the lounge in Toronto, it’s not worth visiting unless your train is delayed. There are light refreshments, packaged snacks and bad coffee.
We made our way to our berths which, during the day, are bench seats. During dinner and breakfast service, staff will convert to beds and back. As seats, they are roomy and comfortable. Same as beds. The upper berth, as mentioned, does not have a window when made into a bed and can feel claustrophobic although my travel partner did not mind it.
I am still hesitant to book a sleeper room for one as your quarters are basically a toilet, so I was happy to once again, go with the upper and lower berths. These are, of course, less private however, I rarely spend much time in my seat, rather in the bar, car or observation deck.
That said, with beds and curtains drawn, the berths are actually very private.
VIA Rail Bar Service
After dropping our bags at our seats we made our way to the bar car for a departing cocktail. Another perk with VIA Rail’s Sleeper Class Plus is access to the Prestige bar car. This lounge is much nicer and more comfortable than any of the other bars on the train. Not only is there bar seating and tables in the bar itself but there’s a fantastic lounge area at the very end of the train.
Sleeper Class Plus guests receive a welcome drink of champagne while Prestige passengers also enjoy complimentary snacks. Not to be left out, Sleeper Plus passengers have access to free self-serve coffee and tea, cookies, and crackers throughout the trip.
We spent much of our VIA Rail Vancouver to Edmonton journey in this car as it was comfortable and a great place to socialize with other guests. The bar staff was also super friendly and was happy to answer the many questions we had about working the rails in Canada. On top of full bar service, there was a decent selection of craft beer which was nice to see.
VIA Rail Meal Service
After a few drinks and mingling with guests it was time for dinner.
In VIA Rail’s Sleeper Class PLUS, meal service is a solid part of the journey. Passengers get a decent variety of well-prepared dishes served by attentive staff. The meals, covering breakfast to dinner, are served in a dedicated dining car with a good view. The menu caters to different tastes and dietary needs with some Canadian cusine thrown in. It’s a straightforward and satisfying culinary experience that adds a nice touch to the overall travel comfort, making Sleeper Class on VIA Rail a good choice for those who appreciate decent meals along with their journey.
Upon boarding, guests are assigned a dinner time. This helps staff manage meal services in the limited space. That said, there were multiple dinner cars on this trip and plenty of room. Still, you can mingle and sit with other guests if you choose.
In total, on this VIA Rail Vancouver to Edmonton Sleeper Class Plus journey, we were fed four times – dinner on day one and breakfast, lunch, and dinner again just before arrival in Edmonton the next day. Now I am always impressed when being served quality meals on any train, plane, or ship.
All meals were fantastic with some great options during each service. Trust me, you will not go hungry on any VIA Rail sleeper class experience. Notable highlights on this trip include a lamb loin dish, chicken pot pie, and prime rib which came recommended from the bar staff.
VIA Rail Observation Cars
Travelling aboard VIA Rail’s Canadian train offers a unique and memorable experience, particularly when enjoying the Observation Cars in both Prestige Class and Economy.
In the Prestige Class, passengers are treated to unparalleled luxury with exclusive access to premium amenities. The Observation Car in Prestige Class features opulent interiors, personalized service, and expansive windows that provide an uninterrupted view of Canada’s stunning landscapes. Passengers can unwind comfortably and engage with fellow travellers in an elegant setting.
On the other hand, even in the Economy class, the Observation Car remains a highlight of the journey. While the amenities might be more streamlined, the panoramic views and the social atmosphere create a sense of shared adventure. Both classes offer a chance to connect with the breathtaking beauty of the Canadian scenery, making the VIA Rail experience exceptional for all passengers.
NOTE: The best time to be in the observation cars is just before and certainly after Jasper where you will get some stunning mountain views.
VIA Rail Vancouver to Jasper
Speaking of Jasper, this is the only stop on this route where guests can actually disembark and see some sights. Depending on if the train is on time or not, guests have anywhere between 30 minutes to a couple of hours to explore.
On my VIA Rail Vancouver to Jasper We had on our trip we had just enough time to take a few photos and make our way over to the Jasper Brewing company for a Flight.
VIA Rail Prestige Class
The train was quiet after the Jasper stop as some guests opted to take advantage of VIA Rail’s generous, stopover rule. On any journey, you can include a stopover at no additional cost. Jasper is one of the most popular spots to do just that.
As such, I was able to take a tour of the Prestige cabins. First thought was that they are spacious. They include a double bed, an en-suite private bathroom with shower, and large windows providing stunning panoramic views of the passing Canadian landscapes. The cabins are elegantly designed and equipped with modern amenities, offering utmost comfort during the journey.
If you are looking at spending any time in your cabin, I would choose this over the one that has a toilet for a pillow 😆.
VIA Rail Overall Experience
As the announcement of an hour delay came over the PA system I realized I couldn’t care less. Sitting in the Prestige lounge car, Caesar in hand and watching the Rockies fade into the distance, there was nowhere else I wanted to be.
That is the best part of the VIA Rail Sleeper Class experience. Time really doesn’t matter and, with spotty cell service the whole way, it really is a great way to just unplug.
Once again, this VIA Rail Vancouver to Edmonton Sleeper Class experience solidified my love for train travel. I feel like it is very underrated in Canada so hopefully, this review helps others looking to see the country at a slower pace.
As for my friend’s very first VIA Rail Sleeper Class Plus experience, he was surprised by the quality of the meal service and the overall comfort that rail travel in Canada brings. He was so impressed that he is know planning to take his parents on a trip, possibly on the Atlantic which runs from Montreal to Halifax.
I might have to tag along on that one so stay tuned for more VIA Rail content.
Does VIA Rail go to Vancouver?
Yes, VIA Rail does offer train services to Vancouver, British Columbia. The train service known as “The Canadian” runs between Toronto, Ontario, and Vancouver, British Columbia. This route covers a vast distance across Canada, providing passengers with a scenic and picturesque journey through various landscapes, including the Canadian Rockies and the prairies. Traveling on “The Canadian” offers passengers a unique way to experience the diverse beauty of Canada while enjoying the comfort and amenities provided by VIA Rail.
What is a VIA Rail Sleeper Cabin for 2 like?
VIA Rail’s Sleeper Cabin for 2 offers a cozy and private space featuring two seats converting into upper and lower berths for sleeping. Storage compartments accommodate personal belongings, while shared bathrooms and showers are typically nearby. Passengers enjoy complimentary meals in the dining car and access to lounges or viewing areas. Windows provide scenic views along the journey, ensuring a comfortable and convenient travel experience.
How much is a train ticket from Vancouver to Edmonton?
The fare for a train ticket from Vancouver to Edmonton via VIA Rail depends on several factors, including the chosen class (such as Economy or Sleeper), booking time, and availability. Typically ranging between $150 to $400 or more for Economy Class, prices vary due to amenities and accommodations. Keep in mind that Sleeper Class tickets generally cost higher. Prices may have changed since my last update, so it’s advisable to check VIA Rail’s official website or contact their customer service for the most current fares, possible promotions, and any available discounts for this specific route.
How much does the Canadian Sleeper train cost?
The cost of traveling on the Canadian Sleeper train varies based on several factors, including the type of sleeper accommodation chosen (such as Roomettes, Bedrooms, or Prestige Class), the season, and demand. Generally, sleeper class tickets on the Canadian train range from approximately $500 to $5,000 or more per person for the entire journey, depending on the selected accommodations, route length, and amenities included. Prices are subject to change and can fluctuate based on availability, time of booking, and any ongoing promotions. For the most accurate and up-to-date pricing, it’s recommended to visit VIA Rail’s official website or contact their customer service directly to inquire about fares and available options for the Canadian Sleeper train.
Can you take a train from Vancouver to Alberta?
Yes, you can travel by train from Vancouver to Alberta. VIA Rail operates train services connecting Vancouver, British Columbia, to various cities in Alberta, including Edmonton and Jasper. The train journey offers a scenic and comfortable way to travel between these provinces, allowing passengers to witness the breathtaking landscapes of the Canadian Rockies and the beautiful western scenery along the route. VIA Rail’s train services, such as “The Canadian” route, offer different classes of travel, including Economy Class and Sleeper Class, catering to different preferences and budgets. Travelers can experience the convenience and charm of train travel while exploring the stunning landscapes from Vancouver to Alberta.
Can you sleep in economy on VIA Rail?
Yes, on VIA Rail, it’s possible to sleep in Economy Class, although the sleeping arrangements differ from those in Sleeper Class accommodations. In Economy Class, passengers have reclining seats that offer a degree of comfort for resting during the journey. While these seats are designed for relaxation, they don’t convert into fully flat sleeping berths like those in Sleeper Class. Passengers in Economy Class might find it more suitable for napping or resting, but it’s important to note that the sleeping experience in Economy Class is not as extensive or private as the dedicated sleeping accommodations available in Sleeper Class. For those seeking more comfort and privacy for sleeping, VIA Rail’s Sleeper Class provides various cabin options designed specifically for overnight travel with beds, private spaces, and additional amenities.
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