VIA Rail has a Change of Heart and Allows Small Dogs Onboard!
It’s always been a source of great annoyance in our family that the Canadian train company VIA Rail, wasn’t as forward thinking as so many others we’ve had the pleasure to ride. It’s tough to go to France, Switzerland, Italy, Czech Republic and on and on and on…. only to return home and be limited to driving the car as a way to get around.
It’s extra frustrating with the extreme weather we experience here in the winter. Oh how nice it would be to travel in the safety of a train rather than risk life and limb on the icy, snow covered highways! We’ve had to do this every winter for the last 7 years as we go visit family in Quebec City.
But no more! We never thought we’d see the day but VIA has changed it’s mind and is currently in a pilot project for the Windsor to Quebec City corridor! AND they have a great VIA Rail Pet Travel Information page to guide you as well!
The process is easy enough. You book your ticket a minimum 48 hours before over the phone and mention you are travelling with a small dog (one per person). Dogs cost an extra $50 per trip and you do have to pay that fee in person at the station before boarding. So allow a little extra time for this.
We never waited more than 5 minutes and this was during the holidays – the busiest time of year. They then register you, give you a tag/ticket to put on the carrier and off you go!
The rules are the same as with a plane for the most part:
- The pet must be kept under control and must be attended at all times in the station and while on board the train.
- The pet must always remain in the carrier.
- The pet must remain on Floor at the passenger’s feet.
- The pet must not be left unattended in any public or private area such as a washroom.
- Under no condition can the pet carrier be placed on the seat.
- Considering the shape and structure of the seats in our cars, animal carriers cannot be stowed under your seat or the seat in front of you. They must therefore remain on the floor at your feet or between your legs.
However…. we did find that there was a lot of … wiggle room… in that no one cared overly much if the top flap of the carrier was open. This allowed for some petting, a quick drink, food … or just a kiss.
Whenever possible (99% of the time) the $50 buys you the seat next to you. So that means that travelling with your dog is SUPER spacious and comfy.
At first the bipeds were a little annoyed. They wanted to sit together – all of us. But because we now travel with two dogs, they got split up. After the first hour of our 6 hour journey we had all settled into the comfort of that extra space. No more complaints here!
Honestly, this is how we will travel when going to Quebec City. It’s just more relaxing for everyone. I got to use my pee pad in the bathroom as often as I wanted, the bipeds were far less exhausted since they could sleep, read, watch a movie on their devices or whatever.
Plus we went for little walks. Yes, in my carrier but still… it was a welcome distraction! Off we went walking the length of our cart a few times at the longer stop in Montreal (Ottawa – Montreal – Quebec City).
Staff were super cool about it all. You could see they had been trained. The bipeds didn’t have to inform them of their own policy as happens far to often! The stewart that had the food trolley on our way to Quebec even found me a little slice of ham as a treat! YAY!
And fun side note, there were 2 other dogs on the trip to Quebec. Although we were the only ones on the return ride home.
At long last, we have a better option for going to the airport in Montreal as well! And yes, I begrudgingly will admit that baby sister Pompadour did rather well for her first trip. An occasional bark, and a little restlessness but … well done little sis. Well done. You did us proud.