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Which train trip - Vancouver to Jasper OR Vancouver to Banff

Sydney
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Which train trip - Vancouver to Jasper OR Vancouver to Banff

which would you say is the best train trip from a sightseeing/experience point of view - Vancouver to Jasper or Vancouver to Banff?

Vancouver, Canada
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1. Re: Which train trip - Vancouver to Jasper OR Vancouver to Banff

Welcome to the forum, Ray ~

The dreaded "best" question! Just to confirm it is the Rocky Mountaineer you are asking about. It is probably fair to say that the tracks that follow Hwy 1 from Kamloops to Banff will give you the more scenic route.

seattle
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2. Re: Which train trip - Vancouver to Jasper OR Vancouver to Banff

The Banff route has far more history and more interesting sites to see them the Jasper route. The Banff route you tend to go through the mountains and see the spiral tunnels and you see The village of Lake Louise. Jasper route goes thru forest lands But not as many things to see.

Sydney
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3. Re: Which train trip - Vancouver to Jasper OR Vancouver to Banff

what about the VIA Rail train?

Sydney
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4. Re: Which train trip - Vancouver to Jasper OR Vancouver to Banff

what about the VIA Rail train?

Edmonton, Canada
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5. Re: Which train trip - Vancouver to Jasper OR Vancouver to Banff

via rail only goes to jasper. much more affordable then the rocky mountaineer but it does not stop at night so you go through some of the nice scenary at night. if you happen to be travelling around the end of june, our daylight hours are long.

Greater Sydney...
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6. Re: Which train trip - Vancouver to Jasper OR Vancouver to Banff

G'day Ray,

Just to summarise the information so far.

The Rocky Mountaineer is a luxury tourist train which I regard to be well overpriced. You can get a good cabin on a 7 day Alaska cruise for the same prices. The RM travels in daylight only and passengers o/night in a hotel in Kamploops. From Kamloops RM travels to either Jasper or Banff/Calgary.

ViaRail is the cross country passenger service "The Canadian" between Vancouver and Toronto, sort of like the Indian Pacific here. As said, it travels day and night, departing Vancouver at 10:30 pm so doing the first bit through eastern BC at night. It arrives a Jasper at 4:00 pm (if on time) so therefore travels though the western portion of BC approaching the Rockies in daylight. I just had a look deeper and it calls at Kamloops at 6:00 am.

A Destination Expert for Jasper, krp, is far more knowledgeable than I in regard to ViaRail and perhaps may drop in tomorrow Canada time to advise further.

I just did a dummy booking on ViaRail for June (oh, and it only departs 3 days per week I think BTW) and the regular fare would be CA$267.68. I have read that the seats are aircraft style but with much more legroom so would be OK to sleep in for a night without going to the expense of a sleeper.

Personally, if not driving myself, as we did, I would just fly to Calgary.

Edited: 09 March 2013, 11:04
Greater Sydney...
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7. Re: Which train trip - Vancouver to Jasper OR Vancouver to Banff

Whoops, being from 'down-under' I mixed up east and west up there (well, that excuse is better than 'elderly moment' anyway).

Western BC at night and eastern BC to the Rockies from Kamloops in daylight in summer.

Quainton, United...
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8. Re: Which train trip - Vancouver to Jasper OR Vancouver to Banff

To answer the original question (and we must be talking Rocky Mountaineer here), having done both routes myself...

The scenery on the Vancouver-Banff route is as good or better, in fact arguably better, than that on the Vancouver-Jasper route.

But for me, they key factor is that the Vancouver - Banff route is the CLASSIC route. It's the famous Canadian Pacific Railway, the first and original Canadian trans-continental line opened in 1885, you'll go past the famous last spike location, past Morant's Curve where so many classic CP publicity photos were taken (you'll recognise it from so many photos!) and over the equally much-photographed Stoney Creek Bridge (featured in every Boys Book of Trains since the 1930s).

Whereas the Vancouver - Jasper route is an also-ran. It's the competing Canadian National Railway route, opened later (around 1919 if memory serves, perhaps a few years earlier). Yes, it's pretty and it passes Pyramid Falls and Mount Robson, but it simply hasn't the cachet or history of the earlier CP route.

Edited: 12 March 2013, 13:20
Jasper, Canada
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9. Re: Which train trip - Vancouver to Jasper OR Vancouver to Banff

Minseat61, the "steel" arrived here in Jasper (then Fitzhugh) in 1911; I am not sure on when the entire line was completed, but I don't think it was much later than that. There were two railways running parallel lines through Yellowhead Pass, the Canadian Northern and the Grand Trunk Pacific, but one of the lines was torn up for the steel to be used in WWI (i.e. pre-1918), and the two railways were amalgamated into the CNR (but I am not sure of the date). The highway 16 roadbed uses some of the abandoned rail line.

A little bit of the pre-amalgamation history persists still - the CN line diverges just west of Mt. Robson, one line to Vancouver, the other to Prince Rupert (the route of the "Skeena" train); railroaders here in Jasper still refer the Prince Rupert line as the "Trunk", and to trains running on that line as "trunkers". That line was also, if I recall correctly, one of the last CN subdivisions to use "train orders" (until the late 1980s) rather than automated signals.

Regarding the CP route - the orginal line over Rogers Pass was abandoned after just a few years, in favour of the tunnel under the pass, due to the avalanche hazard. Some of that old railbed is now a walking trail. On the west side of the pass, you can start at Loop Brook, where there are still stone trestle columns, one of which has fallen over, and some interpretive signage explaining how the loop was used to lessen the grade (similar to the Spiral Tunnels near Field, BC). From Loop Brook, you can walk east a couple of kilometres to the site of Glacier House, formerly one of the grand railway hotels. Back in the day, because of the steep grades, the trains did not have heavy dining cars on them, so they stopped for meal service. (Field, BC also used to have "Stephen House".)

One argument in favour of the VIA service, in terms of "cachet" is that they are using restored 1950s (?) rail cars.

Vancouver, Canada
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10. Re: Which train trip - Vancouver to Jasper OR Vancouver to Banff

Krp, You and your hubby should really write a book. This kind of stuff needs to be recorded and archived. I know, I know, it has been, but I mean your unique stories/experiences and memories.

Maybe another Lightfoot Railroad Trilogy? I jest .. But just a wee bit.

Edited: 12 March 2013, 21:09
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