Why Passenger Trains Suck in Canada - Part 1 - VIA Rail

  • 🎬 Video
  • ℹ️ Description

I love taking the train, but taking the train in Canada is difficult. This video explains what it's like to take the train in Ontario, Canada, and some of the history behind why it's so painful.

Image & Video Credits (in order of appearance):

Spoorwegen | Afl.17 | Koplopers
Spoorwegen TV

Episode 10: Roads for Rails - the Newfoundland Railway
Well There's Your Problem Podcast

VIA rail passenger train #76, Komoka ON, VIA 916 [drone] (13-May-2017)
Train Spotted (YouTube/CC BY)

VIA Rail passenger train #73 & #76 meet, Glencoe ON [drone,4k] (2017-Oct-18)
Train Spotted (YouTube/CC BY)

VIA Rail Timelapse 4K: Toronto to Parry Sound
InfiNorth (YouTube/CC BY)

Map of the Quebec-Windsor Corridor
Awmcphee (Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 4.0)

VIA rail passenger train #73, London ON [drone,4k] (2017-Oct-16)
Train Spotted (YouTube/CC BY)

Canada blank map
Wikipedia (Public Domain)

VIA Rail train #84 arriving London ON (2019-Aug-24)
Train Spotted (YouTube/CC BY)

VIA Rail Review (Part One)
Nigel Hay (YouTube/CC BY)

VIA Rail train #72 (Windsor-Toronto) arrives at London ON (2020-May-31)
Train Spotted (YouTube/CC BY)

Rail Fanning at Brandon N. - VIA Rail Canadian at 75 MPH!
ManitobaTransitVids (YouTube/CC BY)

VIA Rail train #85 at Stratford ON, from Toronto to London (2019-Aug-20)
Train Spotted (YouTube/CC BY)

VIA Rail RDCs in Windsor, ON. for the First Time in 30 Years Plus VIA 72
CPWindsorsub (YouTube/CC BY)

Map of the Great Western Railway of Canada
City of Hamilton Archives (Public Domain)

Maps of the 401
Ministry of Transportation (Ontario)

Canadian Pacific Railway Co., Passenger Train.
Ingenium digital archives

VIA Rail Canada Inc., Diesel locomotive, passenger train
Ingenium digital archives

Map of VIA Rail Routes
VIA Rail (website)

CP mixed freight train & VIA train 73 (2017-Oct-19)
Train Spotted (YouTube/CC BY)

VIA Rail train #75 arrives & departs London ON (2020-May-20)
Train Spotted (YouTube/CC BY)

VIA Rail schedule, Toronto to London
VIA Rail (booking website)

Driving map from Toronto Union Station to London VIA Rail
Map Data © 2020 Google

Map of the proposed Ontario high-speed rail
Government of Ontario (website)

High speed train between Toronto and Windsor has been cancelled

VIA HFR proposal
VIA Rail Canada Inc (YouTube)

VIA Rail train #72 (Windsor-Toronto) arrives at London ON (2020-May-31)
Train Spotted (YouTube/CC BY)

VIA Rail passenger train #73 & #76 meet, Glencoe ON [drone,4k] (2017-Oct-18)
Train Spotted (YouTube/CC BY)

Via Rail Canada's on time performance from FY 2011 to FY 2019
Statista 2020

Meet the new fleet
VIA Rail Canada Inc (YouTube)

High speed train between Toronto and Windsor has been cancelled (BlogTO):

'Tienminutentrein' moet elke 7,5 minuten gaan rijden (rtl nieuws):

VIA Rail train #85 at St. Mary's ON, from Toronto to London (2019-Jul-27)
Train Spotted (YouTube/CC BY)

Meet the new fleet
VIA Rail Canada Inc (YouTube)

💬 Comments


... will be released later this summer.

Author — Not Just Bikes


"I watch videos about trains"
Me: haha, such a nerd
Also me: watching this video about trains

Author — Mélina Fourtune


There is a huge misconception about population density in Canada. Yes, when considering the entire country the population density is very low. BUT, when considering the areas where people actually live the population corridors compare quite well to many European countries. Southern Quebec, for example, is about the same size and has about the same population as Switzerland. Switzerland happens to have one of the world's densest train networks.

Author — Brian Tennant


Me: "How bad could it really be?"
Not Just Bikes: "They weigh your bags 30 minutes before departure"
Me: ...

Author — Thomas L


My family emigrated from Russia and I was (and still am) so underwhelmed in Toronto to realize that trains are this trivial thing and there's no "train culture". It felt like it was a remote village where steam was used just yesterday. No electrified railways, no variety of locomotives from throughout the 20th century. The curious thing is how Europe managed to develop both excellent rail and road networks.

Author — Alex Nikiforov


"population density of six" I cried xD

Author — Deldarel


"I like trains"
*ASDF Flashbacks*

Author — uniworkhorse


Totally agree with you. The passenger train service in Canada is pathetic. The argument that Canada is sparsely populated holds no water at all. For example, Finland, which is very sparsely populated and has a population of roughly the same as BC, has an incredible train network, connecting all large cities and most small towns. Yes, the train service here sucks and it really is damned embarrassing!

Author — carlhaluss


Btw...I'm a student who commutes often between Ottawa & Montreal. Besides the 7 trains/day limitation, I found VIA rail's fares to be ridiculously expensive. The student fare is about $100 roundtrip for the train, whereas the greyhound bus costs $40-50 rountrip. Travel time is similar & the bus has departures every 1-2 hours.

Author — Brodie Taym


"Hold old is this train?"
Me: I'm going wild - 1950s."
"Wrong! It was built in 1947."

Author — DonKangolJones


You could replace every mention of “Via Rail” with “Amtrak” and you’d have almost the same story!

Author — Daniel Sugar


As a London Ontario resident can we get some more content shitting on London Ontario. Tbh I just need it to validate all my reasons for hating this place lol

Author — dunnom8


Hey NJB: You really hit the nail on the head about the inanities of VIA Rail. But you forgot to mention that a recent "innovation" is that they are selling assigned seating tickets ... several times over! This happened on a journey from Montreal to Toronto in summer 2019; I was asked to change seats twice to accomodate seniors who had to sit together -- and one of the ladies held a ticket with the exact same seat number as mine. Never actually occupied the seat/train number printed on my "boarding pass". Cheers from a fellow train-masochist.

Author — Martin


when I traveled in Europe, I had my eyes opened to just how terrible our trains are. one I took a few times after meeting somebody, from Kiev to Sumy. a distance of about 300 km, or a little under twice the distance from London to Toronto (from London myself), the trip took about 6 hours with 6 stops on the way, and it cost about $12US. I loved the trains in Europe.

Author — M Spicer


The irony;
"Bombardier" a Quebec company. One of the most advanced, innovative designing companies in the world. In 1950 fifties Bombardier designed, built the futuristic monorail for Disney Land. Invented the snowmobile, skidoo, thrust propulsion in marine us, ie sea-doos/ water jet/boats etc. Aso in aviation ind / trains and high speed trains all over the world.

The metro system in Montreal us the most advanced, as well as in design with its under ground city.

But Bombardier is not a U..S. corporation, as the auto industry is. The Canadian government has subsidized the American automotive industry in Canada over the century in the tune of hundreds of billions.

If you can get car lover's out of their cars. Then the train's may succeed.

Author — Wave Length


“If you’re going to need a car to get to where you’re going anyway, why bother taking the train at all?”

If this isn’t also the US, I don’t know what is.

Author — ChaseLearnsLanguages


NJB: “How old do you think this car is?”

Me: “1940s”

NJB: “WRONG, 1947”

Me: Shocked Pikachu face

Author — Raine Draa


I'm from London Ontario, seeing shots of my town on this channel was pretty funny. No one dunks on our downtown harder than other Londoners, but it's accurate.
Having been to Amsterdam once it was incredible to see the vast array of transit working so seamlessly. I remember a tour guide showing us a photo of women laying bikes across a construction zone to protest a highway being built. In Canada we protest when they try to build bike lanes or add buss routes. We get what we deserve I guess.

dutch city to visit first? giethoorn

Author — erikoftheinternet


"High Frequency Rail" by Via Rail is the "Train" everywhere else in the world. Meanwhile in France you can travel 800km in 3 hours for 18€.

Author — Julien Couasnon


As an American living in Germany, the parallels were... painful

Author — KhAnubis