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VIA Rail
Are there any tricks to trying to get reasonable fares for travel 1+ month in advance on VIA's website?

I'm trying to plan a late-February getaway to Montreal (I need a Metro/AZUR and Chicken Poutine fix) figuring a Friday-Monday kinda thing.  I can get fares from Toronto-Montreal return for $44 per direction per person... but if I try to do Kitchener-Montreal, it jumps to $120+, which makes no sense to me.  If I plan it all manually, I could just take a $20 GO ticket from Kitchener to Toronto, then catch the late morning train from Toronto to Montreal, and kinda do the same thing in reverse on the way back.

If I use their tools, for the two of us to go from Kitchener to Montreal and back it comes out to almost $500, which is kind of insane. I feel like I'm missing something really obvious...
For daily ion construction updates, photos and general urban rail news, follow me on twitter! @Canardiain
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That or book the VIA segments in two different transactions.
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(01-13-2018, 12:07 AM)DHLawrence Wrote: That or book the VIA segments in two different transactions.

Yeah. I wouldn't book Kitchener-Montreal as one ticket. In general, booking as separate tickets means that they don't have a responsibility to accommodate you if there is a delay (also true for airlines). However, I've been stuck in a VIA-connecting-to-VIA delay on separate tickets and they have rebooked me on a later train at no cost. I would also book VIA Kitchener-Toronto at least if you are concerned about missing the connection, possibly on two tickets. Missing the GO connection Toronto-Kitchener is not as big a deal.

I am planning to book an Amqui-Toronto ticket (and connect to Kitchener) for April. I think I will book that as one ticket because missing the connection would be a big pain, especially if I bring a bicycle, which requires a specific Montreal-Toronto train. But it's still more expensive to do it as one ticket vs two tickets.
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Last time I missed my connection was a trip back from Ottawa. They shoved me and other Kitchener/Guelph passengers onto a cramped minibus with the heat turned full blast. The driver seemed to find our relief at the cold air coming in at Guelph amusing. Ever since I've preferred Aldershot.
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Thank you for all the suggestions!

It’s been a few years since I’ve taken VIA, but I had the same cramped minibus experience. I was traveling Kitchener to Brockville. It was incredibly cold, and the train was delayed coming from London, I believe, by more than 4 hours. By the time the train finally got me to Toronto, all other trains were completely full, so we were on the minibus the whole way. It was kind of them to do this for us and I respect that, but I went the train option to ride a train... Sad

With regard to booking the two legs separately; I’m totally fine with taking GO there and back, too. Or maybe just back - as you point out.

Can you tell me more about the bike options on specific trains, Plam? Now we’re looking at that Montreal-Jonquiere train to go up sometime to check out the Veloroute de Bleuets!
For daily ion construction updates, photos and general urban rail news, follow me on twitter! @Canardiain
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Last time I took the trip I took the GO train to Toronto and transferred to Via there. Saved me a lot of money.
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(01-13-2018, 11:25 AM)bgb_ca Wrote: Last time I took the trip I took the GO train to Toronto and transferred to Via there. Saved me a lot of money.

This is a couple of years back now but I booked a trip Kitchener-Ottawa on Via’s website and it put me on GO between Kitchener and Toronto. I mean it gave me that option and I took it. On the way back the Via was a bit late so I ended up with about 5 minutes to navigate to the proper platform with 2 kids and board the GO. We made it but I did wonder what would have happened if we missed it — there were no specific announcements about what connecting passengers should do.
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You can't transport a bicycle from here to Toronto on a VIA train, but you can on a GO train. (I've done it once when I got lucky and the VIA train happened to have a baggage car, but they don't promise that.) For my April trip I'm thinking of biking to YYZ and then taking the plane out, and the train back.

The rules are here:

http://www.viarail.ca/en/travel-info/bag...dard-items

Toronto-Montreal with a bicycle on Fridays has to be the 11:30 train (VIA 64). I don't think you have to box your bike. I've seen people just get their bike delivered off the train, ready to ride. The rules seem to say that the bicycle can be on a different train than you.

(I am going to Jonquiere in February, but I'll take the plane; the train seems to take 2x as long. I'm curious about the route. It probably does not go near a highway.)

It seems like you'd be looking at an overnight in Montreal to take the train to Jonquiere.

I'm curious about the rule where it says "if there is a transfer, you have to box the bicycle". That doesn't seem to make much sense to me.

@ijmorlan: I guess that VIA would re-issue a ticket if you missed a transfer to GO, but by default they issue a fixed-time ticket for GO (which is not a very good deal, since paying with PRESTO is much more flexible and the same price). The GO connections seem to be kind of second-class for VIA personnel. They do tell you what to do for VIA-VIA connections.
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(01-13-2018, 05:16 PM)plam Wrote: You can't transport a bicycle from here to Toronto on a VIA train, but you can on a GO train. (I've done it once when I got lucky and the VIA train happened to have a baggage car, but they don't promise that.) For my April trip I'm thinking of biking to YYZ and then taking the plane out, and the train back.

The rules are here:

http://www.viarail.ca/en/travel-info/bag...dard-items

Toronto-Montreal with a bicycle on Fridays has to be the 11:30 train (VIA 64). I don't think you have to box your bike. I've seen people just get their bike delivered off the train, ready to ride. The rules seem to say that the bicycle can be on a different train than you.

(I am going to Jonquiere in February, but I'll take the plane; the train seems to take 2x as long. I'm curious about the route. It probably does not go near a highway.)

It seems like you'd be looking at an overnight in Montreal to take the train to Jonquiere.

I'm curious about the rule where it says "if there is a transfer, you have to box the bicycle". That doesn't seem to make much sense to me.

@ijmorlan: I guess that VIA would re-issue a ticket if you missed a transfer to GO, but by default they issue a fixed-time ticket for GO (which is not a very good deal, since paying with PRESTO is much more flexible and the same price). The GO connections seem to be kind of second-class for VIA personnel. They do tell you what to do for VIA-VIA connections.

I believe Via has a train or two with a bike rack, so you don't need to box your bike.  I don't know about transfers, I'm not even sure there is a transfer which has bike options on both legs.  

Out of curiosity, how did you take your bike on GO, I thought all our trains qualified as rush hour trains, and thus bikes were prohibited.  I've taken my bike on the GO bus once, the experience was acceptable, although it was a little nerve wracking having a bike on the front of a bus on the highway.

I have wanted to take my bike to Montreal, but have never been able to figure out an option which didn't seem like more trouble than just renting bikes there (where was pretty easy).  If you find a way, please let me know.  

As for missed connections, I know if you book book all your legs in one trip, even if some are on GO, Via should guarantee your transfers.  I didn't do that (because Via only books GO Train, not GO Bus), and as a result of very slow busses I missed my connection (I was pretty steamed that 3.5 hours was insufficient time to get to Union station).  I called Via as it became apparent that I would miss the connection, and when I got to union (at one minute past departure time) the Via attendant there was able to book me on the next train (which was the next day sadly).  They told me calling ahead was a good idea.
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(01-13-2018, 05:48 PM)danbrotherston Wrote: I believe Via has a train or two with a bike rack, so you don't need to box your bike.  I don't know about transfers, I'm not even sure there is a transfer which has bike options on both legs.  

Out of curiosity, how did you take your bike on GO, I thought all our trains qualified as rush hour trains, and thus bikes were prohibited.  I've taken my bike on the GO bus once, the experience was acceptable, although it was a little nerve wracking having a bike on the front of a bus on the highway.

I have wanted to take my bike to Montreal, but have never been able to figure out an option which didn't seem like more trouble than just renting bikes there (where was pretty easy).  If you find a way, please let me know.  

As for missed connections, I know if you book book all your legs in one trip, even if some are on GO, Via should guarantee your transfers.  I didn't do that (because Via only books GO Train, not GO Bus), and as a result of very slow busses I missed my connection (I was pretty steamed that 3.5 hours was insufficient time to get to Union station).  I called Via as it became apparent that I would miss the connection, and when I got to union (at one minute past departure time) the Via attendant there was able to book me on the next train (which was the next day sadly).  They told me calling ahead was a good idea.

Via says most of their trains with baggage trains also have bike racks, but maybe you might get unlucky and get one without a bike rack. You can transfer from the Corridor (Toronto-Montreal) to the Ocean (Montreal-Halifax) and both of those trains have baggage cars (sometimes); that is the itinerary I'm planning for in April. The Canadian (Toronto-Vancouver) also has baggage cars.

I can't remember when I took my bike on GO or which bike I took. I have a suspicion it was my folding bike, which is always allowed. I have access to bikes at my parents' place in Montreal as well, so I don't usually rent bikes there. I can't remember if I took my bike on a GO bus and whether I put it in the hold. I have taken skis on GO buses. But it looks like the last train of the day to Kitchener leaves at 6:50pm, which is outside rush hour.

I missed a Via-Via connection once when the train from Kitchener got delayed by a demolition in Toronto which didn't go as planned and impinged on the tracks, so we had to backtrack and take an alternate route. That's when they rebooked me, despite separate itineraries.
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