Travel

First time using VIA Rail

  • Last Updated:
  • Feb 27th, 2018 10:49 pm
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[OP]
Sr. Member
Dec 27, 2005
603 posts
117 upvotes
Toronto, ON

First time using VIA Rail

Hello all,

I'm travelling from Toronto to Ottawa using via rail. This will be my first time using via Rail.

How long before the departure time should I get there ? So you keep your luggage with you or is there a different section at the station where I check in like at the airport?

Thanks
6 replies
Penalty Box
Feb 22, 2016
4745 posts
4348 upvotes
It's all on their website:

http://www.viarail.ca/en/help/faq/useful-info/

Short answers to your questions based on that FAQ: 1 hour to be safe, and luggage depends on the train and itinerary -- some you get to check bags, some you can't. I'd say if you're going straight through from Toronto Union to Ottawa, good chance you can check bags, but if you're getting on and/or off elsewhere (say, Oshawa over here or Fallowfield over there), probably not.
Member
Aug 12, 2014
259 posts
176 upvotes
Toronto, ON
for traveling between toronto and ottawa, you carry your bags with you on the rolling stock (car) and there are racks near the end of each.

http://www.viarail.ca/en/resources/lrc- ... nomy-class

http://www.viarail.ca/en/resources/stai ... -class-can

Train cars (This link opens a window)
*The type of equipment varies or is subject to availability.

LRC car (This link opens a window)
HEP stainless steel cars
Deal Addict
Feb 25, 2007
1324 posts
786 upvotes
Ottawa
EastGTARedFlagger wrote: 1 hour to be safe [...]
That is, indeed, safe. If you are not checking bags, either because you can't or because you don't need to (check your ticket for the specific luggage policy on your train and for your destination), and you have your boarding pass on your smartphone, you could turn up 10-15 mins before departure and be OK. Really not recommended, especially first time travelling, due to your likely stress levels and lack of buffer if you can't find the right track or otherwise take a wrong turn, but there isn't as strict a deadline as when you need to get through airport security.
Sr. Member
Feb 11, 2009
985 posts
239 upvotes
30 mins before departure is more than enough. The only risk is that you might be delayed getting to the station.

At Ottawa and Toronto you just read the screens and join the appropriate line. Someone will go down the line with the scale and weight any luggage that looks overly heavy. In most cases you just bring the bags with you on the train. Knapsacks and small suitcases fit in the overhead. Oversized stuff goes on the racks at one end of each car. There is no fighting for space like there can be for planes. In some cases the trains have very little on board storage space and this is where baggage check-in is mandatory for all but small items. In this case they will usually tag your bag while in line. Once you get onto the platform they will take it away and put it in a baggage cart. When you arrive it will be on the carousel just like at the airport.

When you get to the platform there will be staff pointing you to your assigned car. You have to show your ticket at the line, and also again when you are seated. There is no meal service but there are drinks and sandwiches you can buy when the trolley passes by you. Of course you are welcome to bring your own food.
Penalty Box
Feb 22, 2016
4745 posts
4348 upvotes
houska wrote: That is, indeed, safe. If you are not checking bags, either because you can't or because you don't need to (check your ticket for the specific luggage policy on your train and for your destination), and you have your boarding pass on your smartphone, you could turn up 10-15 mins before departure and be OK. Really not recommended, especially first time travelling, due to your likely stress levels and lack of buffer if you can't find the right track or otherwise take a wrong turn, but there isn't as strict a deadline as when you need to get through airport security.
That really would depend on the station. If you were boarding at Guildwood then you might have to walk as little as 50 feet from where you're dropped off at the curb to your platform (and there's just 4 to choose from). So 10 minutes before departure should be plenty at a place like that. I can park my car there 5 minutes before the GO Train I need, and get on no problem.

OTOH, if you're dropped off in front of Union Station with 15 minutes to go... I don't like your chances. That place you want 30 minutes minimum.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Oct 25, 2009
4328 posts
1338 upvotes
Moncton
Get a Presto card and use it in Ottawa. 61 and 62 go quickly downtown, likely near your hotel. Don’t ask for directions as those lines are new thanks to the O’TRAIN construction. It is an expensive/unnecessary taxi ride, although tempting if it is cold. The bus is quite frequent, warm and fast. http://www.octranspo.com/images/files/m ... temmap.pdf
Everyone will tell you to take bus 95 that has stopped at the TRAIN transitway station for 20+ years. It doesn’t anymore.

Bring an iPad with downloaded movies. Between Kingston and Ottawa the train rocks. There are fluorescent lights next to the windows that you can’t turn off that the conductor sometimes keeps on. Incredibly unpleasant way to travel despite the extra leg room. Consider taking a Greyhound bus next time. At least I can sleep on those (and it stops midway for a leg stretch/snack).
Toronto is a very small part of Canada

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