VIA Rail Canadian + Empire Builder loop trip (2022)

Today the main thing I wanted to do was to rent a bike and ride it around the Stanley Park seawall loop. Also, if I had time, I wanted to ride the West Coast Express since that only goes outbound from Vancouver in the evening and I was planning on an early night (or perhaps an early departure for Victoria) on Wednesday.

After getting going a bit later than I hoped and grabbing a quick lunch to eat at my hotel, I decided to head towards a bike rental place close to the Stanley Park seawall loop. I found that Spokes Bicycle Rentals seemed like a good option, and it also seemed easy to get to by bus. I decided to go that way - as it seemed that buses would take credit card payment by tapping, I wouldn’t even have to fuss with change. Was able to do so, which kind of amazed me as a concept (fare payment usually involves exact change or complicated payment schemes), and took the bus close to the rental shop without issue. Went and rented a bike, and set off on the path, which was only a couple blocks away.

(Video) The Canadian train 1 June 29, 2022 Toronto to Vancouver, cabin for 2

Riding a bike around the Seawall loop did not disappoint - I got to see coastal scenery I hadn’t previously, go by the Lions Gate Bridge, and went by Third Beach, which I hadn’t made it to by walking. It looked like it might be better than the other ones, though I didn’t end up stopping as I wasn’t prepared for getting in the water (and wanted to hopefully get back and catch the West Coast Express). Before I knew it, I was passing the familiar grounds of Second Beach, and made it to the part where I would leave the seawall path to head back toward the rental place. Made that loop in a little over an hour, and returned the bike.

Once I had finished returning the bike, it was slightly after 5pm. Quite a bit earlier than I had anticipated - was thinking I may miss the WCE, but in fact I could still make the second-to-last one (instead of the last) if I quickly caught a bus to Waterfront Station. Got on there, and this time the card reader did not like my credit card. After trying a few times and beginning to dig up change, the driver just let me go since I was going to be paying a fare at the train station. Made it there and bought a ticket (with help from some person there, as I was a bit lost trying to find a single ticket as opposed to a monthly pass), and got on the train (which was very similar to what I had seen on the Coaster back in San Diego) with a few minutes to spare, finding a window on the waterfront side.

(Video) Empire Builder at Trinidad 1

Once on the train we moved through a large freight rail yard, and eventually saw the waterfront come into view. To my surprise, there were quite a few people on the train - I figured a peak-hours-only commuter service would be underused given the shift to remote work post-pandemic, but it was much more full than I thought. I had purchased a ticket all the way to Mission, but still pondered getting off at Coquitlam so I’d have a straightforward SkyTrain trip back rather than an exurban bus adventure. When we got there I wanted to continue the journey, so exurban bus adventure it was. At that point we approached the Fraser River, and now the interesting scenery was on the opposite side of the train. Since many people had gotten off at that point, I quickly found an open table seat with a power outlet, which was handy to charge my phone for the impending exurban bus adventure. The train continued along the Fraser River until we hit Mission City.

When I had originally contemplated this trip, I was planning to take the last WCE and find something to eat/drink in Mission from 7:35 until the 9:01 route 701 express to SkyTrain. However, that would get me back after 11pm, and as there were no earlier 701s I could catch I opted for a different route suggested by Google Maps. A few minutes after our train arrived there was a BC Transit local route 31 to Abbotsford, which at least one other train passenger ended up taking as well. It strikes me that the WCE should probably run to Abbotsford (having a few times the population of Mission), but since it doesn’t they have this bus transfer set up nicely. Saw a few signs for a VIA Rail station on the route - the Canadian has two stops in this area, one at Mission North going eastbound and one at Abbotsford going westbound. While I get the reason why (using CN in one direction and CP the other), it still seems odd - what do you do if you want to go on a trip and park your car at the station? You’d have to call a cab - Uber didn’t seem to be in this area at all when I checked, and in fact suggested the very transit route I got on.

(Video) VIA RAIL REVIEW of the Bedrooms, Berths, Roomettes, Showers, Bathrooms and PARK CAR on THE CANADIAN

Eventually took this bus to a transfer station called Borquin Exchange, and used the transfer I got after paying the cash fare on the first bus to board route 1 to Highstreet Mall. This took us to a mall (no surprise), where I was to catch the BC Transit Fraser Valley Express (Route 66) to the Lougheed Town Centre SkyTrain station. The 7:55 bus I was connecting to was the last of the day (after which the only transit option to go back was to go all the way back to Mission City and catch the 701), though we got there with plenty of time to spare. When the 66 showed up, to my surprise it was just a normal city bus and not the large coach bus express routes like this typically use. Used my last Canadian bill (a 5) to pay the fare, and got on the highway for the trip to Lougheed, using the HOV lane. There was one intermediate stop at some kind of transit hub before we reached the SkyTrain.

At the SkyTrain, I began to buy a fare using the Compass machine, but someone left me an unexpired fare they no longer needed that I ended up using, so I was off the hook on fare for the second time today. Looked for the next Expo Line train to Waterfront - to my surprise none of the trains I saw had the line/destination on a display, though the overhead display showed the current train and next ones. Got on the train, and had my first experience with SkyTrain, which was kind of neat (if a bit more bumpy and loud than I’m used to). Google Maps suggested getting off before Waterfront and getting a bus, but I opted to stay on to try the Canada Line transfer. Transferred to the Canada Line, which had newer trains than the Expo Line, and went just a couple stations to Yaletown-Roundhouse which was the nearest station to my hotel. Exited the station with my still-valid fare - for kicks I decided to take out my old San Diego Compass Card to see if Vancouver’s Compass Card system would take It (it recognized It as a card, but didn’t take it).

(Video) Canadian Train 1 Toronto to Vancouver Epic Full Route Overview Via Rail

Walked back to the hotel, finally making it back after that journey. Were I to do it again, I may have got off at Coquitlam, returned by SkyTrain from there, and gotten back sooner. At the same time, I would have missed out on the bus adventure, which reminded me of taking various suburban/exurban routes around Southern California back then. The BC Transit part in particular reminds me of taking Omnitrans in the Inland Empire or perhaps NCTD bus routes around Escondido (outside San Diego), and I’ve taken plenty of express buses in HOV lanes out there). Funny enough, I had taken Omnitrans when going to see an Ontario Reign (minor league affiliate of the LA Kings) hockey game. Guess where the Vancouver Canucks minor league affiliate now plays - Abbotsford! Though that’s far from the only California similarity I’ve noticed here (the weather this time of year, San Francisco-like steep hills, and the housing prices being just a few…) In any case, I figure it’s almost time to go to bed - the forecast calls for rain, so I’m not planning much. May ride SkyTrain more, finish my Canadian charge off on a load of laundry, and figure I’ll either go to bed early to take an early ferry to Victoria or leave here tomorrow and spend a night there.

(Video) An Amtrak Regular Tries VIA Rail For The First Time

FAQs

Where does the Empire Builder start and end? ›

The Empire Builder is an Amtrak long-distance passenger train that operates daily between Chicago and either Seattle or Portland via two sections west of Spokane.

How long is the Empire Builder route? ›

If you travel the entire route, the trip length is approximately 2,200 miles and takes about 45 hours to complete with stops in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon.

Can you get off the train Empire Builder? ›

Passengers who booked a planned stop at the national park are able to get off and re-board another Empire Builder train at the same time the next day or any day after. If you were to stop anywhere along the Empire Builder route, Glacier National Park may be the best spot to do so, particularly for outdoor enthusiasts.

How long is the Empire Builder train? ›

The Empire Builder is a daily long-distance Amtrak train connecting downtown Chicago to either Seattle or Portland, Oregon. The journey takes about 46 hours, longer if delays occur along the route. Passengers may be forced to take buses for part of the route if track work is being done.

How much does it cost to take the Empire Builder train? ›

The base price for the Empire Builder is $150 in coach class and $651 in sleeper cars. Coach class tickets do not include meals while sleeper car tickets including traditional dining meals. Discounts and sales are available to get fares at a lower price from time to time.

Which side of Empire Builder is best? ›

The best scenic view on the Empire Builder are on the north side of the train. From this side you'll have great views of the Mississippi River, Glacier National Park and Puget Sound. If your room or seat is not on that side, check out the observation car for great views in both directions.

What is the difference between the 7 and 27 Empire Builder? ›

The only difference between the "trains" is that one goes CHI-MSP, one goes CHI-PDX and one goes CHI-SEA. Between CHI and MSP, all 3 "trains" are combined, and "train" #807/808 is removed or added. Then both "train" #27/28 and "train" #7/8 are combined together from MSP to Spokane.

Is the Empire Builder scenic? ›

From Chicago, Amtrak's Empire Builder travels through regions you'd otherwise never see - wild and scenic parts of Minnesota, North Dakota and Idaho. This particular route to Glacier National Park traverses through all kinds of landscapes, including bustling cities, vast plains, and rugged mountain ranges.

What is the difference between Empire Builder 8 and 28? ›

8 and 28 Empire Builder, from Spokane eastward, are one and the same train. The Empire Builder, going east, begins as separate trains in Seattle and Portland. In Spokane, the two sections are joined to make one train. 8 actually refers to the Seattle section, 28 the Portland section.

Is there WiFi on the Empire Builder? ›

Sharon M is correct. Amtrak does not provide wifi on the Empire Builder. You actually can connect with the net on your cell phone in some of the more populated areas; sometimes people will set up wifi connections between their phone and a laptop, as I sometimes do.

How much is the Empire Builder? ›

Top Amtrak Empire Builder routes
RouteDaily TripsPrice
St Paul to Chicago2$58
Wisconsin Dells to Chicago2$32
Spokane to Seattle11$29
Portland to Pasco1$37
5 more rows

How much does a train car cost? ›

On average, a train car costs between $100,000 and $200,000. Some train cars may cost more or less than this depending on the factors mentioned above.

How fast does the Empire Builder travel? ›

The entire Amtrak Empire Builder route takes 46 hours at average speed of 50 miles per hour, but our plan was to leave Chicago at 2:15 on Thursday afternoon, spend 30 hours in a luxurious bedroom, and arrive just as the sun sets over Glacier National Park at 8:30 on Friday evening.

Is the Empire Builder running again? ›

Amtrak reported that effective September 28-29, 2021, it is restoring full Empire Builder service as outlined below: “Trains 7/27, which normally operate between Chicago and Seattle/Portland, will operate over the full route, effective with the Chicago departure on Sept. 28.

Does Empire Builder run year round? ›

You can take the Empire Builder train at any time of year, but there are a few things to be aware of before you book your trip. One of the highlights of the Empire Builder is traveling through Glacier National Park. The East Glacier stop is closed after early October, but the West Glacier stop stays open year round.

Do Roomettes have bathrooms? ›

Roomettes are private from the rest of the train and come with seats, bunks, and a basic toilet.

Whats the difference between a roomette and a bedroom on Amtrak? ›

Each bedroom has the capacity of two adults (with an option for a third), one to two suitcases and are 6'6” x 7'6”. Unlike roomettes, our bedrooms also have an in-room toilet, shower and a sofa that converts to a bed. Travelers looking to stretch out and upgrade from our roomette should explore our bedroom option.

What is the cost of a sleeper car on Amtrak? ›

And now for a limited time, a trip in the comfort of a private room starts at just $99 each way, plus the cost of your vehicle. Customers selecting a Roomette will find comfortable seating alongside a big picture window; newly upgraded bedding, pillows, towels and linens, and a dedicated attendant.

What's the best place to sit on a train? ›

"The safest spot in a train, during an accident, is the center of the train," said Mann, who was the principal author of the Federal Railway Safety Act in 1970. "Because if there is a front-end collision or a rear-end collision, the damages will be greater at those locations.

What is the best seat on a train? ›

The most comfortable seat is the one all the way up front in the locomotive. Yes, some of Amtrak's trains are Superliners, and they do indeed have two levels. However, only the upper levels connect between the cars. A reserved seat is not an assigned seat.

What days of the week does the Empire Builder run? ›

The EMPIRE BUILDER train (Chicago Union Station Amtrak) has 40 stations departing from Seattle King Street Station Amtrak and ending in Chicago Union Station. EMPIRE BUILDER train time schedule overview for the upcoming week: It departs once a day at 6:40 PM. Operating days this week: everyday.

Does the Empire Builder go through Glacier National Park? ›

Skirting the Missouri, you'll cross into the Big Sky country in Montana, passing by a travelers favorite, Glacier National Park.

What happened to the Empire Builder? ›

On September 25, 2021, at approximately 3:55 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time, Amtrak passenger train 7/27, the westbound Empire Builder, carrying 141 passengers and 17 crew members, derailed west of the town of Joplin, Montana, United States.

How much does it cost to go from Chicago to Seattle on Amtrak? ›

Chicago to Seattle train information
ROUND-TRIP FROM$300
ONE-WAY FROM$150
AVG TRAVEL TIME46h 13m
TRAIN COMPANIESAmtrak

What time does the Empire Builder go through Glacier National Park? ›

The Empire Builder departs Whitefish every morning around 8 AM and arrives at East Glacier Park approximately two hours later. The westbound train departs every evening around 6:45 PM, making it the perfect day or weekend trip. There are plenty of activities on either side of the line so make sure to plan accordingly.

Can you walk between cars on Amtrak? ›

You're allowed to walk about the train as often as you'd like. Just make sure to watch where you're walking onboard the train between cars. The safety plates often shift and pinch when the train is in motion.

Is Amtrak still running the Empire Builder? ›

BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Amtrak's Empire Builder route, which travels east and west through North Dakota and Montana, was canceled Tuesday. The cancellation comes as Amtrak announced Tuesday its making adjustments to some of its long range routes due to the ongoing labor negotiations with other major rail companies.

What is the most scenic Amtrak route? ›

AMTRAK'S COAST STARLIGHT. Amtrak's Coast Starlight is considered one of the most scenic routes in the Amtrak system, offering the very best views of the Pacific Coast, from the cliffs of Pacific Coast Highway to the peaks of the Cascade Mountains.

Are Amtrak sleeper cars worth it? ›

Are Amtrak Sleeper Cars Worth It. Amtrak sleeper cars are a great way to see the country in a private accommodation. Getting a sleeper car is worth it as you'll be getting free meals and bags included. When you add up the cost savings of a hotel in addition to the other benefits, the Amtrak sleeper car is a good value.

Does the Empire Builder have a dining car? ›

As an exclusive, complimentary offering for customers traveling in private rooms, traditional dining service is provided in the Dining Car on the Auto Train, California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited and Texas Eagle (between San Antonio and Los Angeles).

Does the Empire Builder stop in Glacier National Park? ›

Did you know Amtrak still delivers easy access to one of America's most spectacular national parks? Its Empire Builder route enters the southern fringe of Montana's Glacier National Park, providing riders in picture-window observation cars with spectacular views and up to four stations.

What is the difference between Empire Builder 8 and 28? ›

8 and 28 Empire Builder, from Spokane eastward, are one and the same train. The Empire Builder, going east, begins as separate trains in Seattle and Portland. In Spokane, the two sections are joined to make one train. 8 actually refers to the Seattle section, 28 the Portland section.

What time does the Empire Builder leave Chicago? ›

EMPIRE BUILDER train Route Schedule and Stops (Updated)

EMPIRE BUILDER train time schedule overview for the upcoming week: It departs once a day at 6:40 PM.

Is the Empire Builder route scenic? ›

From Chicago, Amtrak's Empire Builder travels through regions you'd otherwise never see - wild and scenic parts of Minnesota, North Dakota and Idaho. This particular route to Glacier National Park traverses through all kinds of landscapes, including bustling cities, vast plains, and rugged mountain ranges.

What is the difference between the 7 and 27 Empire Builder? ›

The only difference between the "trains" is that one goes CHI-MSP, one goes CHI-PDX and one goes CHI-SEA. Between CHI and MSP, all 3 "trains" are combined, and "train" #807/808 is removed or added. Then both "train" #27/28 and "train" #7/8 are combined together from MSP to Spokane.

Is there WiFi on the Empire Builder? ›

Sharon M is correct. Amtrak does not provide wifi on the Empire Builder. You actually can connect with the net on your cell phone in some of the more populated areas; sometimes people will set up wifi connections between their phone and a laptop, as I sometimes do.

What is the best month to go to Glacier National Park? ›

For most people, late June through mid-September is the best time to visit Glacier, because they want to drive the Going to the Sun Road, raft and fish the rivers, hike the trails, visit the backcountry Chalets, and explore several areas of the park, on both sides of the Continental Divide.

Does a train go through Glacier National Park? ›

We have over 15 Glacier National Park rail vacation packages to choose from. Whether it's a one-way train journey or a roundtrip experience, you can begin or end your journey from any of the 500 Amtrak train stations.

How long is train ride from Chicago to Glacier National Park? ›

How long is the train journey from Chicago to West Glacier? The distance between Chicago and West Glacier is approximately 1354 miles, or 2179 kilometers. The average train journey between these two cities takes 31 hours and 22 minutes, Looking for ways to pass the time?

How much does a train car cost? ›

On average, a train car costs between $100,000 and $200,000. Some train cars may cost more or less than this depending on the factors mentioned above.

How fast does the Empire Builder travel? ›

The entire Amtrak Empire Builder route takes 46 hours at average speed of 50 miles per hour, but our plan was to leave Chicago at 2:15 on Thursday afternoon, spend 30 hours in a luxurious bedroom, and arrive just as the sun sets over Glacier National Park at 8:30 on Friday evening.

What is the most scenic Amtrak route? ›

AMTRAK'S COAST STARLIGHT. Amtrak's Coast Starlight is considered one of the most scenic routes in the Amtrak system, offering the very best views of the Pacific Coast, from the cliffs of Pacific Coast Highway to the peaks of the Cascade Mountains.

How much does it cost to take a train from Chicago to Seattle? ›

Chicago to Seattle train information
ROUND-TRIP FROM$300
ONE-WAY FROM$150
AVG TRAVEL TIME46h 13m
TRAIN COMPANIESAmtrak

How much is the Empire Builder? ›

Top Amtrak Empire Builder routes
RouteDaily TripsPrice
St Paul to Chicago2$58
Wisconsin Dells to Chicago2$32
Spokane to Seattle11$29
Portland to Pasco1$37
5 more rows

How long is the Amtrak from Chicago to Portland? ›

There are 4 daily trains from Chicago to Portland. Traveling by train from Chicago to Portland usually takes around 65 hours and 50 minutes, but the fastest Amtrak Empire Builder train can make the trip in 46 hours and 12 minutes.

Videos

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2. Stuck in the middle of NOWHERE on VIA Rail in Canada
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3. Visit to Glacier Park via Amtrak's Empire Builder from Chicago to East Glacier
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4. 48hrs on VIA Rail's MOST NORTHERN TRAIN in Canada
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5. VIA Rail Canadian, Train 1, Winter 2015 [HD]
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6. Empire Builder Train Trip October 2021
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