Train Travel: Rocky Mountaineer-Style

Discussion in 'Other North America/non U.S.' started by NileGuide, Nov 9, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. [​IMG]
    Photo by Mike Kurtgis.
    My train-riding experience — except for a few jaunts around Europe — has mainly consisted of trips around Florida via Amtrak. Those trips, as many train trips are, were for one purpose: to get from point A to point B; they definitely had nothing to do with sightseeing. With that said, there was a lot left to be desired. When I heard about a luxury train in Canada, The Rocky Mountaineer, I knew it was gonna be good. Here are the highlights:
    Day 1: All aboard!
    Arrive in Vancouver and check-in at the Rocky Mountaineer Vancouver Station. A red carpet serves as the welcome mat as the entire crew greets you. Opt for the GoldLeaf Service so you can kick back in the glass-enclosed top deck. This means you have killer, panoramic views of the Canadian Rockies for the next two and a half days. Not too shabby.
    Next, prepare your tummy; freshly baked scones are coming down the aisle. Save room though, soon after, you’ll be heading to the lower-level dining room for a made-to-order breakfast. (Think buttermilk pancakes, candied orange zest and Aldergrove berry preserve or poached eggs served over Montreal smoked meat on a fluffy crumpet.) The presentation is equally impressive; your meal is thoughtfully arranged on white linen table cloths.
    Photo by Sarah Sekula.
    Next, bust out the camera. Step out onto one of the vestibules. And snap away while the train chugs past glacier-fed lakes, majestic mountains and ferocious rivers. First, there’s the fertile Fraser Valley and the scenic Fraser Canyon where you’ll watch water race past the canyon’s walls at its narrowest point.
    By early evening you’ll be in Kamloops, a historic rail city in central BC. Check in at your hotel, and make a beeline for Felix on Fourth for local fare and charming ambiance.
    Day 2: Marvels and Marmots
    Continue your journey eastward to the city of Banff. Keep an eye out for bears, majestic elk, moose and marmots (a cross between a woodchuck and a prairie dog). Of geeky note, you’ll pass through the spot where the last spike was driven completing the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885.
    Better yet, the train will travel through the unique Spiral Tunnels in Yoho National Park, a remarkable engineering achievement, to say the least. By sun down you’ll be in Banff National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site. Cozy up at The Fairmont Banff Springs; easy enough to find, it’s the only one styled after a Scottish Baronial Castle.
    At the end of the day, big appetites can feast on duck confit, wild Northern caribous medallions and buffalo striploin at The Sleeping Buffalo at Buffalo Mountain Lodge
    Day 3: The Great Outdoors
    Ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain in Banff, to snag a bird’s-eye view of six mountain ranges. Dress warmly: you’ll be at an elevation of 7,486 feet, where It’s not uncommon to spot snowflakes year round. After your high-altitude frolic, lunch at the Maple Leaf Grill.
    On the other hand, if it’s a lazy day you’re after, stow away at Willow Stream, the spa at The Fairmont Banff Springs. The Pure Indulgence is 8 hours long. I repeat, 8 hours long. Treatments include a wildflower body polish, a 60-minute alpine aromatherapy massage, a customized deep-cleansing facial, a Willow Stream signature manicure and pedicure, a hair treatment and a delightful spa lunch.
    Day 4: Chugga Chugga
    Transfer via motor coach to Calgary International Airport. Head home with a new view of train-riding. No wonder The Rocky Mountaineer is known as one of the best train trips in the world. Sure tops my list.
    Rocky Mountaineer
    Vancouver Station
    1755 Cottrell Street
    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Tourism Vancouver
    Tourism Kamloops
    Banff Lake Louise Tourism
    Thanks to Rocky Mountaineer for sponsoring our trip.

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  2. sfo1
    Original Member

    sfo1 Silver Member

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    This is no cheap rail trip, it is quite expensive. They do have a lessor class of service for less money, regular rail cars no bi level cars, but if you have the bucks for the overnight trip it is worth it.
  3. Regardless of your experience onboard, you should be aware that on June 22, 2011 Rocky Mountaineer locked out over 100 dedicated onboard attendants.
    RM has boasted that they are a 200 million dollar company but refuses to give it's employees a reasonable wage increase after 3 years at the same pay rate. They have never followed the federal labour code when it comes to overtime, yet the company hides behind that same labour code by using replacement workers (scabs), which is illegal in the province of British Columbia. The use of scab labour undermines the right to fair bargaining by the employees. The company feels no pressure to negotiate and claims to be running the business as usual. They have not returned to the bargaining table since July 7th where they sat for exactly 11 minutes and offered a 2% wage DECREASE.
    The over 100 locked out onboard attendants do not see this as business as usual. It is not usual to be standing on the other side of a fence watching someone else do their jobs. It is not usual to have "managers" staffing the coaches and serving the guests. And it certainly is not "business as usual" to have guests cross a picket line at the beginning or end of a trip.

    The company is doing their best to make the locked out employees look like the bad guys; they will say that they had no choice but to lock their employees out, however the negotiating team had asked for an extension to avoid giving strike notice, and in order for the staff to keep working while negotiating, and it was denied. Instead the company chose lock the staff out and to put into place an expensive contingency plan in an obvious effort to break the union.
    They have enlisted an abundance of security to constantly film and intimidate the peaceful picketers, have spent countless dollars trying serve court injunctions against employees that are only trying to get their jobs back. They've put tarpaulins along the fences so that the guests cannot see the faces of the award winning staff that should be on that train.

    These are not greedy people, these are people who love their jobs and have years of experience on the train. These are the real attendants whose faces can be seen in the literature on the train, advertisements and commercials. They are people with families, mortgages and babies on the way. These are people that dedicate their lives to the company and work tremendously long hours to build a nest egg in order to make the money they earn stretch an entire year as they are not easily employable in the winter time.

    I have taken the train and quite enjoyed myself, but part of what made the trip so exceptional was the amazing staff on board. Knowing the difference of how the service should be and what it is now, I would never take the train again, and I would certainly never ever cross a picket line.

    You can do your part by voicing your displeasure to the company, write to the company or to postpone your trip until the dispute is over.
    For more information go to

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