I'm a seasoned Amtrak rider who spent 6 hours in business class on a Canadian train for the first time. It was better than any train I've taken in the US.

Left: The author in a pink mask sits in a business class seat with a window on the right. Right: People board a train parked in an indoor platform
The author traveled in business class on Canada's Via Rail train from Toronto to Montreal.Joey Hadden/Insider
  • I booked a business-class ticket on a Via Rail Canada train from Toronto to Montreal in 2022.

  • For $200, I sat in a business-class seat with two tables and complimentary meal and drink service.

  • I thought it was nicer than most US trains I've been on, worth the price, and I'd gladly ride again.

I've spent more than 100 hours on trains in the last two years, from 30-hour overnight rides to quick three-hour journeys.

I've taken trains along the East Coast of the US, into the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Québec, and between the European countries of Germany, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland. Along the way, I've tried out a wide range of seating options, from business and first classes to shared bunks and private rooms.

In August of 2022, I spent six hours traveling in business class from Toronto to Montreal on Canada's Via Rail train line. It was my first time using Via Rail, and I was surprised by all the offerings of business class, from comfy seats to snacks and meals.

Last year, I spent six hours in business class on a Canadian Via Rail train from Toronto to Montreal. I thought it was totally worth the $200 ticket.

The author sits on the train
The author sits in business class on a Montreal-bound train.Joey Hadden/Insider

Before that, I'd spent 85 hours on Amtrak trains going up and down the East Coast, reviewing its various accommodations from business and first class to private rooms in sleeper cars. But this was my first time trying Via Rail, Canada's main railroad system.

A composite image with a scarlet background and four photos pasted over it and prices on each.
Insider's reporter has traveled across the east coast on several different Amtrak trains in upgraded cabins.Joey Hadden/Insider

Read more: I spent $1,000 to have a room to myself on a 30-hour Amtrak ride. It was the best experience I've ever had on an overnight train.

Similar to Amtrak, Via Rail is one of the most accessible and popular ways to travel by train in Canada. It serves more than 400 stations in eight provinces across Canada with economy seating, business class, and sleeper accommodation, according to its website.

A Via Rail train at Union Station
A Via Rail train at Union Station in Toronto.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Via Rail

My journey began at Toronto's Union Station. I arrived at 7 a.m. for my 8:30 a.m. train to Montreal.

Union Station on a cloudy day in Toronto
Union Station on a cloudy morning.Joey Hadden/Insider

I arrived early because I knew my business-class ticket came with access to an exclusive lounge at the station with plenty of seating and free refreshments.

The lounge at Union Station in Toronto
A look at the refreshments offered in the lounge.Joey Hadden/Insider

The lounge was mostly empty on a Friday morning. I thought it was a quiet and peaceful place to enjoy a coffee and get some work done. Amtrak has lounges at select stations too, but they're only free to access for first-class passengers.

A lounge in Toronto's Union Station
A seating area in Union Station's Via Rail lounge.Joey Hadden/Insider

According to its website, Via Rail's lounges are available to passengers traveling in business class, sleeper plus, prestige, and VIA Rail Premier members traveling in economy.

The lounge at Union Station in Toronto
A look inside the lounge.Joey Hadden/Insider

Around 8 a.m., I made my way to the track where my train was boarding. My business-class ticket came with priority boarding, so I was able to skip a long line of passengers.

Line to board the train to Montreal
People wait in line to board the train.Joey Hadden/Insider

I headed straight to the train car dedicated to business class.

The business class car on the train
The business-class car on a Via Rail train.Joey Hadden/Insider

Read more: I booked the wrong room on a sleeper train and it was the biggest mistake of my 2-week backpacking trip through Europe

When I got to my assigned single seat, I was surprised to find that I had a side table in addition to a tray table that pulled out in front of me, since no train I've ever been on in the US has offered two tables per passenger.

A seat in business class in a Via Rail train
The author's seat on the train.Joey Hadden/Insider

Read more: I've spent 100 hours on trains in the US, Canada, and Europe. I found that trains abroad are more comfortable.

Throughout the trip, I used the side table to hold my coffee while working, and to store my laptop while taking work breaks.

The side table on the train
The author's side table on the train.Joey Hadden/Insider

Beneath the side table was a conveniently placed outlet for charging devices.

An outlet at the author's seat
An outlet beneath the table.Joey Hadden/Insider

Right away, I thought that my Via Rail seat was one of the most comfortable I've ever experienced on a train. The Toronto Star reported that Via Rail business-class seats are 18.5 inches wide with a 39-inch seat pitch. An Amtrak representative told Insider that their business-class seats are about an inch wider with an additional three inches of legroom, but I don't think they're nearly as comfortable.

The seat and leg room in business class
Seats in Via Rail's business class.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Toronto Star

Unlike Amtrak seats I've sat in, the top of my Via Rail seat was curved, so I was able to rest my head in a comfortable position for lounging.

The author lounges in her train seat
The author relaxes in business class.Joey Hadden/Insider

The seats reclined, too, just like in the US. This made them even more comfortable.

The seat reclines in business class
Via Rail seats recline.Joey Hadden/Insider

I also noticed that, unlike on my rides with Amtrak, Via Rail's seat back compartments held a safety pamphlet with directions for what to do in an emergency situation. I found this comforting.

The emergency and safety pamphlet
An emergency plan for evacuating the train.Joey Hadden/Insider

The train started moving right on time at 8:32 a.m. I settled into the ride by editing photos for work.

The author edits photos on the train
The author gets to work as the train departs.Joey Hadden/Insider

Shortly after leaving, a train attendant came around with complimentary drink service. I ordered a coffee.

The author's notepad and coffee
The author enjoys a coffee while taking notes.Joey Hadden/Insider

Then it was time for breakfast. Unlike Amtrak's business-class fares, Via Rail's ticket comes with complimentary meals brought to my seat. The train served a warm bagel with cream cheese. It was no New York bagel, I thought, but it was decent and filled me up.

The author's breakfast on the train
The author's breakfast.Joey Hadden/Insider

An hour later, an attendant came back around with savory snack packs filled with nuts, pretzels, and crackers.

Snacks on the train
A salty snack on the train.Joey Hadden/Insider

Just before lunch, train attendants came around again with warm hand wipes, which I thought was a nice touch.

A wipe from train staff
A packaged warm wipe.Joey Hadden/Insider

Lunch was another business-class perk, which I hoped for since the ride was six hours long. The menu was announced over the loudspeaker. The entree choices were trout, chicken, or pasta.

View from a train seat
The author's view from her train seat.Joey Hadden/Insider

I went with the pasta. It was a rigatoni dish with sides of corn salad, bread, and carrot bread for dessert. The meal was better than I expected with an al dente cook on the pasta. I also thought it was much better than the pasta I've tried on Amtrak trains.

The author's lunch on the train
The author's meal.Joey Hadden/Insider

After lunch, I went to the bathroom and was impressed by how clean it was compared to most train bathrooms I've used.

The author in the train bathroom
The author uses the bathroom on the train.Joey Hadden/Insider

Due to some delays at stops along the way, the train arrived in Montreal about an hour later than scheduled at 2:30 p.m. While I thought this was frustrating, at least I was comfortable.

The business class car on Via Rail
The inside of the business-class train car.Joey Hadden/Insider

This 6-hour business-class ride cost $200, while a recent 10-hour Amtrak business-class ride cost $163. Although it was more expensive, I think the Via Rail ride was worth the additional cost since I found it to be so comfortable.

The author takes a selfie with carrot bread
The author enjoys her carrot bread on the train.Joey Hadden/Insider

Even though we were late, I found business-class train travel to be more comfortable and pleasant in Canada than I typically do in the US. Now I want to explore more of Canada by train.

The author in front of the train car
The author in front of the train.Joey Hadden/Insider

Read more: I traveled first-class on an Amtrak Acela train and thought the perks were cool — but not worth the $270 price tag

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