A Trip on VIA Rail’s ‘Skeena’ (Jasper, AB – Prince Rupert, BC)
(Scroll down for images) – Photos of the ‘Skeena’s’ route begin at pic #29
The Canadian (Toronto, ON – Edmonton, AB) -1st leg of trip The Skeena (Jasper, AB – Prince Rupert, BC) -2nd leg of trip Plus return trip on The Canadian (Vancouver, BC – Toronto, ON)
The Canadian (Toronto, ON – Edmonton, AB):
‘The Canadian’ is VIA Rail’s Western transcontinental train. For a description & pictures of the Canadian please see the page on The Canadian. VIA’s ‘Canadian’ has a traveling musician program featuring artists performing at specific times in one of the train’s several dome cars. On this trip the artists were Piper & Carson from www.pipersings.com
On this trip, we detrained from the ‘Canadian’ at Edmonton to explore Alberta before heading to Jasper to catch VIA’s ‘Skeena’ train to Prince Rupert, BC, from which we were able to explore the city & Vancouver Island.
Passengers leaving the train at Edmonton may take a taxi to stay overnight at the Super 8 Hotel in Leduc/Edmonton Airport. For passengers then wishing to explore Alberta, there is a shuttle from the hotel to Edmonton International Airport where Avis Car Rental provides rental car connections.
From Edmonton it is then a 4-1/2 hr drive to Medicine Hat, AB, where rail fans can visit a pair of restored Canadian Pacific FP7A diesel locomotives on display in Riverside Veterans’ Memorial Park on River Rd S.E.
From Medicine Hat it is a 4-1/2 hr drive to Banff where persons can stay at the renowned Banff Springs Hotel with it’s beautiful mountain vistas.
From Banff it is then a 3-1/2 hr drive along the Icefields Parkway to Jasper through Banff & Jasper National Parks (which features gorgeous scenery & abundant wildlife). Travelers can turn in their rental car at Avis Car Rental in Jasper before boarding VIA Rail’s ‘Skeena’ for Prince Rupert
The Skeena (Jasper, AB – Prince Rupert, BC):
The ‘Skeena’ is VIA Rail’s train that operates over the original Grand Trunk Pacific mainline on a 2-day journey from Jasper, AB to Prince Rupert, BC, via Prince George, BC, where an overnight stop-over is made (passengers can overnight in the Travelodge Prince George Hotel which is accessible from the Prince George VIA station by taxi. Note that hotels & taxis are not included in the VIA Rail fare). The train began operation by VIA Rail in 1979 & is often referred to by it’s unofficial moniker – the ‘Rupert Rocket’.
The equipment on the ‘Skeena‘ includes ex-Canadian Pacific stainless steel coaches with large picture windows & comfortable & extremely spacious reclining seats with leg rests; & an ex-CP stainless steel ‘Park’ series dome-lounge-observation cars. The lounges of the Park cars were adorned with murals painted by the renowned Group of Seven artists depicting Canada’s National Parks. The car also features a tail end “bullet lounge” with comfortable armchairs & a fantastic scenic dome section on the upper level of the car.
In addition to the accommodations described above, VIA Rail has added a new ‘Touring’ Class of luxury service on some departures twice a week during the summer. Normally this service is hosted aboard ex-BC rail Panorama cars (with extra-large windows) which are added to the train, however service requirements sometimes force VIA to substitute these scarce cars with one of the stainless steel coaches mentioned above (which are just as comfortable). Regardless of which type of car is used, Touring class passengers are provided with delicious at-seat meals & beverages included in the fare & have exclusive access to the Park Car on those days which Touring class is offered on the train.
Current VIA Rail motive power on the ‘Skeena’ consists of 3,000 horsepower 6400-series F40PH-2 diesel locomotives built by General Motors Diesel in London, ON.
The route of the ‘Skeena’ passes some of the most stunning scenery in the world. Departing from the scenic mountain-locked resort town of Jasper, AB, the train runs along the shores of beautiful Moose Lake, then over the continental divide through the famed Yellowhead pass with views of Mount Robson, highest peak in the Canadian Rockies at 12,972 ft, & on to Mcbride, BC with it’s elegant old Grand Trunk Pacific Station, following the upper Fraser river before arriving at the overnight stop at Prince George, BC. The next day finds the train passing along the Nechako River & beautiful Burns Lake, then on to Smithers, BC with its majestic views of Hudson Bay Mountain & Kathlyn Glacier before continuing on its way through the Coast Mountains & along the Skeena River to the Pacific Coast at Prince Rupert, BC.
For travelers wishing to continue their journey, in Prince Rupert there are taxi connections to the Highliner Plaza Hotel where a stopover can be made before continuing to the BC Ferries Inside Passage connection to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island. In Port Hardy there are taxi connections to the Glenn Lyon Inn & Budget Car Rental, where you may book a car to tour the island including a visit to the Pacific Sands Beach resort in Tofino, with its beautiful beach & views of the Pacific Ocean.
If you enjoy stunningly captivating scenery, great food, superb seating accommodations & impeccable service, then you’ll enjoy a ride on VIA Rail’s train to the North BC Coast – the ‘Skeena’.