How lucky am I! I am going to Montreal again and taking the train, my new favorite way to travel. The Ocean Line is the Via Rail line that runs from Halifax to Montreal. I get on in Moncton and prefer the train to flying. I get a cabin for one or a cabin for two and have my own little hotel room on wheels. On the way to Montreal the train leaves Moncton around 5 PM and arrives in Montreal at 9 am. On the return trip it leaves Montreal at 6 pm and arrives in Moncton around noon.
The train starts in Halifax and I’d love to do the entire Ocean line at some point to see the country between Halifax and Moncton but for now I am so happy to be close to the train and it is so affordable! My ticket was only $235 one way…close to the cost of Air Canada but the train is way better for me!
A return economy ticket from Halifax to Montreal is only $265 tax included. This is a very good deal compared to flying, although it is slower. I admit I have not taken economy class because I have had enough of taking Greyhound buses when I was younger from Vancouver to Montreal. I have only taken the private cabins on the train and this is probably why I love it so much!
A private cabin on the train, return from Halifax to Montreal is around $525 tax included. There are often discounts and some tickets have meals included in the price. The cabins have locking doors, a private washroom and some have showers.
The cabins are awesome! They would seem a bit cosy with two people in them, I have only traveled alone on this route so find it great for a single person. There are two fold out bunk beds, a closet, hangars, washroom, extra pillows…fully equipped! I can plug in my laptop and listen to my CD’s and have a little snack and a cold beer while watching the countryside drift by.
The observation car is so cool! An art deco style car that has a little bar/cafe and stairs that lead to a glass domed observation seating area. High above the train you can sit with a drink and relax and watch the towns and remote country go past with the clickety-clack, clickety-clack of the train creating an incredible atmosphere.
Then to the dining car for supper. They announce the different services and usually supper starts at 6 and ends around 8. How nice to sit at a real table with a tablecloth and use real steel utensils and drink out of a real wine glass! Often, if you travel alone, you may be seated with other travellers and you have the chance to meet new people.
Everyone on the train has an interesting story!
After dinner I usually go back to my cabin, lock the door and pull down the top bunk where I stretch out and relax and watch a DVD on my laptop. The rocking of the train usually makes me sleep lightly but I always use earplugs when I travel on the train so it is very quiet.
Usually there are sets of earplugs in each cabin but the last two trips I made there were no earplugs in the cabin. I guess with the cutbacks at Via Rail they are getting rid of the earplugs to save money so now I carry some with me. There is bottled water in each cabin and if ever you need more you just need to ask one of the stewards.
Speaking of the staff, they are one of the best parts of taking the train! They are very friendly and come to every cabin to explain the beds, the toilets and the train. I have begun to know and recognize the train employees over the past 3 years. The dining car is staffed by the same people, the sleeping cars are staffed by the same people. It is nice to see a familiar face when you travel!
I like the privacy of having a sleeper cabin even if it is more expensive. The economy seats are probably fine and they are very cheap but I like having a bed and my own little space!
They used to have upper and lower berths available but that might have been on the older model trains. There was an older stainless steel train I took a few times that had cabins for one that were like being inside an art deco submarine. The dining car had lovely etched glass pictures.
This newer model train has a different layout, there is brushed wood in the cabins and a more modern feel. Still I will take the train any time I can! You never know who you will meet in the fairly close quarters of the train.
Once when I traveled there was a musician on board, a young folk singer from Toronto who was traveling home from Halifax after performing there. She was in one of the lounge cars giving a free concert with her acoustic guitar and songs. It was so cool to be on the train, with the back and forth rocking of the cars, listening to some live music! I heard that musicians can perform on Via trains in exchange for their tickets.
Of course the trains are like anything that travels and we have often been a bit late either due to a mechanical issue or weather. They are great about assisting people who have transfers to make to other trains and after all there are things beyond their control.
Being able to see fields and rich forests and cross bridges and snake through towns and villages across New Brunswick and Quebec is amazing. You get a perspective not found when you travel by car or airplane. It gives you time to relax and enjoy the traveling and not just get to the destination.
The stations, whistle stops and sights on the Ocean line:
Amherst | Amqui | Bathurst | Campbellton | Causapscal | Charlo | Charny | Drummondville | Halifax | Jacquet River | La Pocatière | Matapédia | Miramichi | Moncton | Mont-Joli | Montmagny | Montréal | Petit Rocher | Rimouski | Rivière-du-Loup | Rogersville | Sackville | Saint-Hyacinthe | Saint-Lambert | Sayabec | Springhill Jct. | Trois Pistoles | Truro
Read More: Via Rail Ocean Moncton to Montreal by Train