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Amtrak VS. Canada's Via Rail Sleeper Trains: Vloggers Cross North America on Each to Test Which Is Better

United States Canada Train Travel
by Morgane Croissant Mar 26, 2024

If you’ve always dreamed of taking a long train journey, there’s no need to go all the way to Australia to ride The Ghan, or to wait until you’re able to travel on the Trans-Siberian Railway again — there are two great options right here in North America. Both Amtrak (US) and Via Rail (Canada), offer adventurous travelers the chance to spend days on trains crossing the continent from coast to coast. But if you can only pick one, which one should you opt for?

Travel YouTubers Kara and Nate took it upon themselves to test both options so you don’t have to. Over their seven years of nearly non-stop travel, they have accumulated over one entire month spent on trains and have become experts in the field, testing and reviewing dozens of trains and rail routes around the world. This time around, they rode Amtrak’s Lakeshore Limited from New York City to Chicago, and then Amtrak’s Empire builder from Chicago to Seattle, before crossing the border into Canada and riding The Canadian from Vancouver all the way to Toronto. (Via Rail’s The Canadian is not to be confused with The Rocky Mountaineer which is a privately owned luxury day train that runs in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada).

They spent a total of 72 hours on Amtrak in two different Bedrooms, and 96 hours on Via Rail in Prestige Class, both of which are the highest level of offering for each rail operator. Where Amtrak’s facilities were old and grubby, and the food subpar, Via Rail’s was excellent, making for a much more comfortable and pleasant journey. However, it’s important to note that while Via Rail’s Prestige Class is a luxury offering (with the corresponding price tag), there is no such option on Amtrak.

Out of their seven days riding North America’s rails, Kara and Nate chose which operator did it best, and concluded that they experienced their favorite train journey ever. That said, both of them were happy for the experiment to end so that they could finally sleep in a stationery bed.

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