A ride through our history

Great moments in VIA Rail's history

VIA Rail was born from a vision to connect and unite the cities and people of Canada with a safe, comfortable and environmentally responsible service from coast-to-coast. The great moments in VIA Rail’s history bring to light some of the key values that continue to guide this company’s trajectory and support its success across four decades and counting.


A decade of firsts! VIA Rail introduces Canadian rail passengers to the first Super Continental train, First-class service, the first LRC train, as well as the first Canada-US Amtrak train.


Birth of VIA Rail Canada

Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau makes intercity rail service essential across Canada, establishing VIA Rail as a Crown Corporation and the first national passenger rail company.



The Super Continental

On October 29, VIA Rail launches the first transcontinental train between Montréal and Vancouver. That same year, VIA Rail takes over operations of both the Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific (CP) railways, and keeps the name the Canadian Open link in new window in honour of the famous CP train.



VIA Rail introduces 1st First class service between Montréal and Toronto Open link in new window.


The first Light, Rapid, Comfortable (LRC) trains were delivered to Windsor Station in Montréal, making travel more practical and appealing to passengers.

Another big first in 1981, the Maple Leaf, the first VIA Rail/Amtrak train, makes its inaugural run between Toronto and New York City.


New Headquarters

VIA Rail settles into its new headquarters at Place Ville Marie in downtown Montréal.

The Pontifical Train

On September 10, VIA Rail welcomes Pope Jean-Paul II aboard the Pontifical Train.



On May 29, VIA Rail launches “ Canada's Classic Train Experience ” – its first luxury tour train in the Rockies.


A decade marked by exciting new luxuries in rail travel, like the Panorama Lounge and the Silver & Blue class, along with industry recognition for excellence in operations and design.


The first Panorama lounge, exclusively for the use of VIA Rail 1 class passengers, is unveiled at Toronto's Union Station.


VIA Rail wins a Global Award at the World Travel Market in London, England for its contribution to Canada's travel and tourism industry.


Operation Excellence

VIA Rail launches an operations program that sees its Winnipeg and Vancouver maintenance stations awarded international gold-star ratings.


VIA Rail introduces this new luxury class (later renamed Sleeper Plus class) aboard the Canadian Open link in new window that runs from Toronto to Vancouver.


VIA Rail becomes the world's first railway to connect to the Global Distribution System used to sell airline (and now rail) products, allowing travel agents to combine air and rail in the same booking.

VIA Rail wins the Brunel Design Award for the overhaul of its stainless steel fleet.


Focus on Ecotourism

By converting night trains to day trains on the Northern Québec, Jasper-Prince Rupert (Skeena Train), and Churchill-Winnipeg routes, VIA Rail helps promote Canada’s incredible scenery as a key attraction for tourists.

VIA Rail personnel get a new navy blue uniform that wins a Brunel Design Award.



A decade characterized by VIA Rail’s commitment to the environment and efforts to combat climate change, focus is on the astounding nature that makes VIA Rail journeys so spectacularly unique.


VIA Rail gets a new logo that showcases its proud Canadian identity by adding the iconic bright red maple leaf to its trademark yellow block letters, along with Canada’s wordmark logo.

The same year, VIA Rail is voted among the 20 best rail experiences in the world by the International Railway Traveller magazine.


Canada attains Kyoto Protocol objectives, in large part thanks to the federal government’s long-term investment in VIA Rail's Renaissance cars to revitalize passenger train travel.



VIA Rail Celebrates
25 Years!

VIA Rail launches its Environmental Management System, allowing the company to better measure and improve on its overall environmental performance.


VIA Rail wins First Place for Railway Services at the Agent’s Choice Awards!

Society of International Railway Travellers declared the Canadian to be the The Top Train in North America.


A decade defined by VIA Rail’s continued emphasis on employee and passenger safety, as well as building lasting customer relationships.


For the fourth year in a row, VIA Rail wins the 1st Place Railway Services at the Agent’s Choice Awards.


VIA Rail holds the first annual Occupational Health and Safety Conference, in conjunction with the Canadian Auto Workers’ union. This new initiative supports the efforts being carried out by Health and Safety Policy Committees, ensuring that safety remains at the forefront of all VIA Rail activities.


VIA Rail launches a new initiative with the Institute for Canadian Citizenship that gives new citizens and their families a discount during their first year of citizenship to help them discover their adopted country by train. Since then, VIA Rail has hosted swearing in ceremonies in their stations for new citizens organized by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada and the Institute for Canadian Citizenship.

VIA Rail wins the Agent's Choice Award voted on by Canadian travel agents and presented by Baxter Travel for the 6th year in a row.

VIA Rail wins a Safety Award from the Railway Association of Canada for the public safety conference - attended by police forces, Transport Canada, Coroners and the Chief Coroner of Québec, Operation Lifesaver and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference - in Kingston, Ontario, to raise awareness about safety on railway infrastructure.


An Ode To The Train

The Bank of Canada issues a new $10 banknote featuring VIA Rail’s Iconic train, the Canadian Open link in new window, which runs from Toronto to Vancouver.


Creation Of The VIA Rail Police Service

Formed under the Railway Safety Act (RSA), the VIA Rail Police Service represents the first time a Canadian railway company has achieved police services status under the RSA since CN Rail established their police service in 1923. The Police Service is mandated to ensure the safety of VIA Rail employees and passengers.

Launch of a New Class of Service

VIA Rail launches Prestige class Open link in new window – created to give rail adventurers the most enjoyable experience of crossing Canada from Toronto to Vancouver aboard the Canadian Open link in new window. Featuring luxury private cabins, freshly prepared chef meals, sommelier selected Canadian wines, and unparalleled service.

Leisure Group Travel magazine readers honour VIA Rail with the Gold Level Reader’s Choice award for Favourite Train Excursion.

VIA Rail is awarded the Ecclesiastical Insurance Cornerstone Award from the National Trust for Canada for the comprehensive rehabilitation of its heritage Pacific Central Station in Vancouver.

VIA Rail’s vision for intermodality earns it the AirRail Concept of the Year Award at the Global AirRail Awards in Germany. VIA Rail's vision positions it as an enabler for greater cooperation between air-rail (as well as other modes of travel) in order to provide seamless door-to-door travel experiences.

Celebrations mark the 110th anniversary of the iconic Ocean train Open link in new window linking Montréal to Halifax!


Climate Change Commitment

VIA Rail signs the COP21 pact in Paris along with 65 other members of the International Union of Railways to reduce the impact of our activities on climate change.

A Proposal for a "Dedicated Tracks Project"

VIA Rail announces its proposal for a "dedicated tracks project" (renamed High Frequency Rail) to separate passenger and freight rail service from Québec City to Toronto. This exciting new rail service would transform rail travel along these high-traffic corridors, drastically cutting down on travel time, increasing departures and improving schedules.

VIA Rail is honoured with a Preservation Award by Heritage Winnipeg for its work and vision to preserve its historic Winnipeg Union Station, built in 1911.


Showing Some Love For The Canadian

The Canadian Open link in new window is featured on the Discovery Channel’s “Mighty Trains”.

The High Frequency Rail Proposal Makes Good Progress

The 2016 federal budget provides funding over three years to support an in-depth assessment of VIA Rail's High Frequency Rail proposal.

Launch of the VIA Rail Blog

VIA Rail launches a travel blog that celebrates Canada’s hidden gems and worthwhile spots to discover, giving visitors and Canadians real reasons to explore the many destinations and communities served by VIA Rail.

Awards for Fuel-Saving Initiatives VIA Rail wins its first Mercuriade, a prestigious Québec business award given out by the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec for its successful fuel-saving project based on optimized train handling methods.

VIA Rail wins an Environment Award from the Railway Association of Canada which recognized the fuel-saving strategy implemented by the Central Region Transportation team.

VIA Rail, a Model Employer VIA Rail is recognized by Forbes magazine as one of Canada’s best employers, ranking #47 out of 250!


Canada’s 150th

VIA Rail participates in numerous national anniversary activities to celebrate the country’s 150 years of confederation, including decorated trains, special youth passes, and plenty of storytelling and sharing on social media.

Canada 150 sur Youtube



VIA Rail kicks off this new decade with more safety awards, recognition for being one of Canada’s best employers, and awards for its innovative use of digital and geo-location technology. The future is looking brighter than ever for VIA Rail, our employees and especially our passengers!


A New Fleet of Trains

VIA Rail is going to get a new fleet of trains! The 2018 Federal Budget confirms the funding required a much-needed set of brand new trains. The new fleet will be used in the Québec City - Windsor corridor.

Greener Stations

VIA Rail announces that its Winnipeg station earned the BOMA BEST sustainable buildings certification at the Certified level of performance.

VIA Rail Turns 40!

For its 40th birthday, VIA Rail celebrates with 40 Sustainable Actions for 40 years Open link in new window, which supports employee-led projects that will leave a lasting positive impact within communities across the country.

VIA Rail wins the Public Choice Award at the Association québécoise des transports gala, for Clear Station, its pilot project designed to help the blind and partially sighted navigate its stations autonomously.

VIA Rail is the recipient of a Safety Award from the Railway Association of Canada (RAC). VIA Rail has won an annual Safety Award from the RAC 15 times since the year 2000.


VIA Rail welcomes 5,000,000 passengers aboard its trains!

For the first time, VIA Rail is led by women with Françoise Bertrand as Chair of the Board and Cynthia Garneau beginning her mandate in May as President and CEO.

VIA Rail is awarded Gold Parity Certification by Women in Governance for efforts and achievements in promoting and supporting women in leadership development and career advancement at all levels of the organization.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau renews the support of his government for VIA Rail's proposed High Frequency Rail project. HFR was one of the points to pursue as part of the government’s Transportation 2030 strategic plan.

On the way to tomorrow