If the horror stories of hours-long layovers, lost luggage and last-minute cancelled flights have kept you from travelling much this year, why not book VIA Rail tickets and spend your summer exploring Canada by train? 

Train travel can take longer than flying. However, consider how much time you waste in airport check-in lines, as well as unpacking and repacking your bags as you go through airport security.

And on a plane, forget about wifi and data. But on a train, you can work, relax, or catch up on emails. If you cannot fly private, take the train.

Train travel is a comfortable, affordable and practical alternative to crowded flights. You also avoid long drives, car mileage, gas, and sleepy drivers. All aboard the train! Here we go!

What is VIA Rail?

Established in 1977, VIA Rail was Canada’s first-ever national passenger rail company. Today, VIA Rail is a comfortable, convenient and scenic way for tourists and locals alike to get around, offering routes to popular destinations across the country.

Via has adventure routes to more remote regions of northern Canada. Passengers can travel all the way across Canada via the Great Western Way, which stops at all major cities between Vancouver and Toronto.

The Ontario-Quebec Route gives travellers easy access to the major hubs along the Quebec-Windsor corridor. Finally, travellers can enjoy a stunning trip from Montreal to Halifax via The Maritime Way, with stops in Moncton and Bathurst. 

How to book VIA Rail tickets online

Begin at the VIA Rail homepage. Clicking on ‘Plan your trip’ will open up a new menu with links to information on specific inquiries. Here you find:

  • where to find a train station
  • view all routes
  • baggage informaton
  • a sign up for train alerts. 
via rail plan page

Booking your trip

book return ticket

Enter your departure and arrival dates. If you just need a one-way ticket, click ‘no return, thanks’ instead of entering your return dates. You can tell the search engine how many days you’d like to spend travelling. 

rail calender
train fair search

If you want a multi-citiy itinerary, click the multi-city option. Via takes you to a new page with the option to add up to 6 segments to your trip.

Do you have any discount codes? Enter them in the space beneath the number of passengers. 

Via is reintroducing the rail pass system in the fall of 2022. Once you enter your travel information, click ‘Search’ and VIA Rail will redirect you to a new page, displaying results.

Rail pass

If no trains are running on your selected dates, VIA Rail shows you the next available options. Click the drop-down menu to select the class and see the price. If you book a seat only, you can choose from 5 different classes.

Select rail trip

Types of fares

Trains have a lot of different travel classes. All classes include power charging stations and wi-fi. Here is the breakdown.

Economy Escape, Economy Plus, and Business Class tickets

Economy Escape tickets are non-refundable. The Economy Plus and Business Plus tickets are more flexible and there is no charge for refunds or exchanges. 

fare class rail

Sleeper cars

Sleeper cars are much more comfortable for longer journeys. You can book a sleeper in an upper or lower berth, or book an entire cabin, for 1 or 2 people. Sleeper car tickets include meals. 

Prestige Class

Prestige class cabins are available only for journeys between Vancouver and Toronto. They have amenities like a private washroom and shower, TV, personal concierge and gourmet meals.

Using the information (i) icon

Clicking the info icon in the top right corner provides users with more information on specific journeys and available classes. In addition to departure dates, you can filter your search results by arrival dates, duration and connections. 

filter by date rail

After you select your trip, you get to the payment page, where you can go over your trip details before entering your debit or credit card information. You can continue as a guest or open an account. 

rail login

Via and baggage allowances

VIA Rail tickets include 2 large items in their baggage allowance as well as 1 personal and 1 large or 2 small carry-on items free of charge. You can pay for up to 2 additional carry-on bags. The price is $40 per direction. 

Modifying your booking

Making changes or cancelling VIA Rail tickets purchased online is easy. Most bookings can be changed or cancelled with no service charge or cancellation fee. 

modify booking rail

If you have a VIA Rail profile, log on through the website or the app and select ‘Manage your bookings’ from the menu on the left. Find your trip and click either Modify or Cancel, and then follow the instructions. 

my booking rail

If you don’t have a profile, enter your reservation number and follow the instructions provided. New boarding passes are automatically emailed to you. 

VIA Rail’s Preference rewards program

VIA Rail’s reward program gives members the chance to earn points for every dollar spent on tickets. In order to collect points, be sure to log in and enter your account information each time you book. The program is open to Canadian and American citizens and there is no fee to join. 

Honestly, this is a perfect opportunity to stack more rewards. If you book with a rewards credit card or a credit card like Scotia Scene or TD First Class Infinite Travel, you earn credit card rewards and Via Preference points.

How to redeem your Via Preference points

To redeem your reward points, log into your ReserVIA profile. If you have enough points for your trip, the VIA Preference payment option automatically comes up during the checkout process.

The number of points you need will depend on the distance travelled. You can find this handy chart on the website that breaks down how many points you need to reach each destination. 

travel distance

Some tickets cannot be booked online, and members will need to call the VIA Rail service centre to complete bookings. You cannot combine points with cash, but you can book a ticket one way with your points and pay cash for the return ticket, or vise versa. Any changes to a ticket reserved with reward points need to be made by calling customer support. 

Via Rail tickets and Air Miles

Additionally, you can convert Air Miles to eVouchers worth $100. These eVouchers are valid towards the purchase of train tickets or upgrades. Call Air Miles customer support to make the conversion. 

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How do you get cheap Via Rail tickets?

Booking ahead saves you money as ticket prices tend to fluctuate greatly, even throughout the day. To learn how to save even more, the ‘Ways to save’ link under the ‘offers’ tab has more information on all the ways to get cheap Via Rail tickets. 

Cheap ticket Tuesday

Booking on a Tuesday will save you money as VIA Rail offers special discounts every Tuesday. To claim a discount  simply enter the discount code TUESDAY during checkout.

Via Preference

If you are a VIA Preference member, you can travel for free by redeeming points earned for every dollar spent on travel with Via Rail. The higher your status, the more quickly you can earn points. 

Seniors, students, military, families, and indigidenous communities

VIA Rail also offers discounts to seniors, students, military members, Indigenous community members, and families travelling with children.

Newsletter deals

Plus, on select days between June 7, 2022, and October 1, 2022, children can travel on some trains for just $20. Subscribe to Via’s newsletter to find out about upcoming special offers and other ways to find cheap VIA Rail tickets.

Sleeper Plus

To score cheap VIA Rail tickets in a private cabin, click Sleeper Plus class deals and explore discounted tickets to all VIA Rail destinations.  

Last minute tickets

You may have some luck finding cheap last minute tickets. Clicking ‘lowest fares’ will take you directly to the discounted train tickets page where you filter by the city to instantly book seats at the lowest possible fares.

Are Via Rail tickets refundable?

VIA Rail offers its customers an extremely forgiving refund policy. Most VIA Rail tickets are 100% refundable, regardless of when you booked. Unlike airlines, VIA Rail does not charge a service fee for cancellations.

 

Frequently asked questions about VIa Rail

Where can I buy Via Rail tickets?

Travellers can buy Via Rail tickets from Via Rail’s website or app. All major credit cards are accepted, and Via Rail Preference members can pay for their tickets by using their points. Alternatively, you can buy tickets directly from agents at the train station, by calling their toll-free number, or through your travel agent.

How to get cheap Via Rail tickets?

Booking ahead will save you money as ticket prices tend to fluctuate greatly, even throughout the day. To learn how to save even more, the ‘Ways to save’ link under the ‘offers’ tab.
Booking on a Tuesday will save you money as VIA Rail offers special discounts every Tuesday.
Become aVIA Preference member and redeem points for travel with Via Rail.
VIA Rail also offers discounts to seniors, students, military members, Indigenous community members, and families travelling with children. 
Subscribe to Via’s newsletter to find out about upcoming special offers and other ways to find cheap VIA Rail tickets. 
You may have some luck finding cheap last minute ticets. Clicking ‘lowest fares’ will take you directly to the discounted train tickets page.
To score cheap VIA Rail tickets in a private cabin, click Sleeper Plus class deals and explore discounted tickets to all VIA Rail destinations. 

When do Via Rail tickets go on sale?

Via Rail offers yearly Black Friday promotions as well as special offers every Tuesday. Signing up for their weekly newsletters will give you early alerts to upcoming sales and promotions such as Boxing Day sales and summer sales. 

To book regular travel its best to book as far ahead as possible. You can keep track of regular updates to your schedule by subscribing to the train alert service or by tracking your train. 

Are Via Rail tickets refundable?

VIA Rail offers its customers an extremely forgiving refund policy. Most VIA Rail tickets are 100% refundable, regardless of when you booked. Unlike airlines, VIA Rail does not charge a service fee for cancellations.

How to add Via Rail tickets to Apple Wallet?

E-boarding passes were introduced for select routes to speed up the boarding process and reduce wait times. iPhone users can add their e-boarding passes to their Apple wallets by opening their tickets from their email app and clicking ‘add to wallet’. 

You can also add your tickets directly to your Apple wallet if you buy them by using the app.