I recently booked a business-class ticket on a Via Rail Canada train from Toronto to Montreal.
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 recently 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.
Source: Via Rail
Insider paid for the trip, per our reporting standards.
In the past, I've 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.
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 their website.
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.
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 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.
According to their website, Via Rail's lounges are available to passengers traveling in business class, sleeper plus, prestige, and VIA Rail Premier members traveling in economy.
Source: Via Rail
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.
I headed straight to the train car dedicated to business class.
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.
Throughout the trip, I used the side table to hold my coffee while working, and to store my laptop while taking work breaks.
Beneath the side table was a conveniently placed outlet for charging devices.
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 leg room, but I don't think they're nearly as comfortable.
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 seats reclined, too, just like in the US. This made them even more comfortable.
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 train started moving right on time at 8:32 a.m. I settled into the ride by editing photos for work.
Shortly after leaving, a train attendant came around with complimentary drink service. I ordered a coffee.
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.
An hour later, an attendant came back around with savory snack packs filled with nuts, pretzels, and crackers.
Just before lunch, train attendants came around again with warm hand wipes, which I thought was a nice touch.
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.
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.
After lunch, I went to the bathroom and was impressed by how clean it was compared to most train bathrooms I've used.
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.
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.
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.
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