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Have you stayed overnight on a train?
Old 02-04-2012, 10:19 AM   #1
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Have you stayed overnight on a train?

We're considering taking a trip that would involve an overnight stay, in a bedroom/private sleeper(?) accommodation on Canada's VIA train...would go from Vancouver, BC to Jasper, Alberta. Its part of a tour our friends want us to join them on. We wondered what the accommodation would be like, but couldn't find any detailed info on the train's website and I've tried finding info on youtube..and just saw a single private room...of course very basic....not in the least resembling anything like those documentaries about the Orient Express!! No separate bathroom in the compartment and shower down the hall. The cost on VIA's website for this 1 overnight train stay with partial next day on train is astoundingly high... well over $1200 for 2 people. We always have a great time travelling with our friends ... the trip is through beautiful territory with stays at wonderful hotels....but would like to hear from anyone who has had experience staying on a train. Thanks.
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Old 02-04-2012, 10:28 AM   #2
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Found this link which might have some info. Across Canada by train - Wikitravel
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Old 02-04-2012, 10:30 AM   #3
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I've done a few overnight train trips. If you have a bed, they are great. A train in Sweden had three fold out beds in the wall, and I've never slept better. I took a train from Michigan to San Diego (my luggage was lost in Chicago), but that involved sleeping in the reclining seat -- not so good.

I would travel this way, but it always seems too expensive.
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Old 02-04-2012, 10:34 AM   #4
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If you are going through the Rockies at night and behave like my family you won't sleep a wink, the scenery is magnificent and the trail lights will reflect off the snow. I suggest you wear something comfortable and camp out in the dome car at night. There is a 'cork screw' on the west side of the Rockies that you wouldn't want to sleep through. Sleep the next day, even extend your travel one day to catch up on your sleep.
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Old 02-04-2012, 10:45 AM   #5
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I've done that trip, and though I did not sleep on the train, based on my experience with VIA I'd definitely opt for the hotels. At VIA's prices you might expect above average food, seating, service, etc. but during our trip things were decidedly below average. The meals served were the worst I've ever had on any transport. A crew member threatened to throw me off the train because while seated I used a pillow found on the train! I kid you not. They claimed that pillow was for the crew only and there were absolutely no pillows, blankets or towels on the entire train available for a passenger. As for the scenery, most of it is blocked from view by dense tall trees along the train's route so you are left with infrequent, all-too-brief glimpses of the beautiful mountains. Conversely during my trip the old railroad hotels such as Chateau Lake Louise offered wonderful views, were well maintained, and were staffed by helpful, courteous people.
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Old 02-04-2012, 01:05 PM   #6
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You do not really want to hear about our night rides on the train between Moscow and St. Petersburg (2 night trips and one day trip within one week, not by choice but by misorganisation of the russian tourist organisation) in 1990.
Imagine the worst and add some more.
And we are not picky travellers.
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Old 02-04-2012, 01:28 PM   #7
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We did the auto train from Virginia to Florida . During the day you have a private room with seats and at night it converts to bunks with a bathroom down the hall .Food was mediocre . I would rather opt for hotels .
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Old 02-04-2012, 01:40 PM   #8
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I've taken the sleeper from Boston to DC a few times and love it. But the best was always the sleeper from North East England to London. It would get in to Kings Cross station around 4:00am and you could sleep until 6:30am when the porter can around with a cup of tea. Then you showered got dressed and stepped off the train and got straight onto the Underground to go wherever you wanted in London.

Here is a nice video all about Amtrak roomettes

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Old 02-04-2012, 01:40 PM   #9
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We're taking Amtrak from Texas to California in a few months. There is an Amtrak forum - can't seem to find the link - that has lots of good information. After reading several posts on that forum, we opted to have a bedroom that has toilet, shower, and lavatory accommodations in addition to two not-horribly-small beds. I was going to get the roomette; but, we like our privacy in all matters. If I wanted to wait in line for a bathroom, I'd fly.

I don't have any information on Canadian routes and prices. I do know the earlier you book the cheaper the rooms. I used this_site to find fares and accommodations and then logged on to Amtrak to book. I poked around on the Snag Fairs until I found the price I wanted for rooms. They can be substantially different from one day to the next.

All meals were included if you purchased a room.
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Old 02-04-2012, 01:41 PM   #10
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I have stayed overnight on Amtrak maybe a dozen times. Most people spend the nights in their seats, which are pretty comfortable. Normally I spend nights in the lounge car, which can get pretty chilly at night, driving everyone else out. The seats are not as comfortable as the assigned coach seats, but I usually have it to myself most of the night. I always bring food / drinks / entertainment with me.

I sprang for a cabin (cheapest roomette) one trip, about $200 extra (meals included). It was pretty interesting. The train crew were very nice, and it was very relaxing to travel that way. The foldout bed was sufficient.
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Old 02-04-2012, 01:55 PM   #11
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Though not on VIA, I've overnighted many times on Amtrak from Chicago to L.A. on the Southwest Chief. I normally just went coach with recliners and slept very well!

On a few trips I booked a sleeper and enjoyed that as well. Most times I had an 'economy roomette'....2 seats facing each other like a restaurant booth, that turn into the lower berth and an upper berth that drop down making it like bunkbeds. One trip I had a 'handicap room' which was the full width of the car with the same type sleeping arrangement but also with a shower, a sink, and a toilet in the room.

Also breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the dining car were included in the price of the sleeper, along with morning coffee & juice and a newspaper delivered by an attendant. They also prepare the beds at night, and make them in the morning while you go to breakfast. The attendant is on call 24 hours a day in case you need anything.

Your free to wander and go to the lounge car or dome car or wherever, at your convenience.

Although probably not exactly the same, I would guess VIA is quite similar.
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Old 02-04-2012, 04:37 PM   #12
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I've taken the Amtrak cross country in a roomette and thought it was great. Lots of time to read and watch movies on the laptop in between taking in the views, being served three meals a day, and chatting people up in the viewing car. The only downside is the expense. I'm looking forward to another cross country ride this fall from Boston to San Francisco.

On the other hand I rode a few trains across China. Everyone had a bunk, no seats, so you had to basically just lay down on your back for two days. No showers, no meals, the only toilet was a hole in the floor in a closet, there was a food cart with overpriced stuff going down the aisle with the most annoying steward's voice you can imagine. Hell on earth.
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Old 02-04-2012, 05:04 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris2008 View Post
You do not really want to hear about our night rides on the train between Moscow and St. Petersburg (2 night trips and one day trip within one week, not by choice but by misorganisation of the russian tourist organisation) in 1990.
Imagine the worst and add some more.
And we are not picky travellers.
Ah, yes.
Sounds very much like our overnight train trip between Jinan and Beijing back in 1990. I don't even like to think about it; it was that horrible.


There was also the time I spent the night with high school friends riding the NYC subway system. We wanted to see if we could visit the termination points of every line in the system before dawn. Utterly pointless, but that's what high school kids did in those days,


I've never heard bad stories about Canadian trains, but no personal experience beyond the Montreal subway system (which is pretty nice).
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Old 02-04-2012, 05:41 PM   #14
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All of my train experience is in Europe but I'll second T-Al. My experience is that if you're in a sleeper car it's great, otherwise it can be miserable.
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Old 02-04-2012, 06:05 PM   #15
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We took a sleeper train for an overnight leg in Europe. We felt it was just transportation, not an excursion--too dark to see anything. But it was really comfortable, no trouble sleeping, DH used the shower, food was included (and sucked), and it was about half the price of your Canadian trip. Being able to board and disembark in the centers of the cities we were visiting was so convenient.
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Old 02-04-2012, 09:28 PM   #16
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Sleeper train between Germany and Czech Republic. At 3am at the Czech border the train stopped to check passports. We were awakened from a very sound sleep by machine gun toting military types...what a way to wake up!
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Old 02-04-2012, 10:07 PM   #17
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My train trips have all been enjoyable on some level. Some Amtrak travel in the US but, mostly travel in Europe. Trips to Munich on the Oktoberfest party train, through East Germany to West Berlin during the Cold War, and an overnight trip to Arzamas-16 in Russia were the most memorable.
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Old 02-04-2012, 10:42 PM   #18
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Thank you Michael B for your link to good info re VIA and to all others for your interesting experiences on the trains of the world. While we only have one night on the train...the rest of the journey we will be staying in Fairmont Hotels which definitely look wonderful....they're located at Lake Louise, Banff, Jasper and Calgary...all in the rockies. We've never taken an escorted tour before...always have done our own planning and driving...but our friends who have toured alot say that although a little pricey, its much easier to have luggage toted for you and to watch the scenery instead of the road looking for deer to jump out. Slowly but surely it seems we're talking ourselves into going. As for the overnight on the train....we'll consider it a once in a life time experience..and be glad its only one night! Thanks again everyone.
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Old 02-05-2012, 05:43 AM   #19
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Have a great trip!
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Old 02-05-2012, 09:21 AM   #20
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I did that VIA journey once, same route, opposite direction. We didn't have a private room, but instead we had two seats that faced each other with a small table between, and at night it converted into a lower bed and a fold down upper bed and a heavy curtain for privacy. It was fine but neither of us slept well so we wound up going to the observation dome car, which was very cold. I think we were first class as we had nice meals and access to the dome with an employee who basically acted as a guide, pointing out some sights. This was about 12 years ago.

If I was to do it again I probably would look at the Rocky Mountaineer, which travels during daylight only for 2 days and overnights in Kamloops. That way you get all of the scenery and a good night of sleep. I don't know what the price difference is, but it's probably high.
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