Renaissance sleeping-cars of the Ocean to Halifax, at Moncton
 

The Océan at Moncton, New Brunswick...

Go East, young man...

The Man in Seat 61 says "You can head West from Toronto to the Rockies & Vancouver on VIA Rail's great transcontinental streamliner, the Canadian.  But what happens if you go East?  VIA Rail's other long-distance train is the Océan from Montreal to Halifax Nova Scotia, and if you ride it you'll discover a whole new Atlantic Canada.  What's this 836-mile journey like and what is there to see in Halifax & Nova Scotia like when you get there?  Read on to find out..."

  Train times for VIA Rail's Océan to Nova Scotia

  How much does it cost?

  How to buy tickets

  What's it like on board the Océan?

  An illustrated journey on the Océan

  Things to see in Halifax & Nova Scotia

  Watch the video:  Montreal to Nova Scotia by train

Train times...

Toronto, Montreal, Quebec ► Nova Scotia 

 

 

 Nova Scotia ► Quebec, Montreal, Toronto 

 Train 64 Toronto-Montreal

 The Océan, Halifax-Montreal

 Toronto Union Station depart:

11:30

Daily

 Halifax, Nova Scotia depart:

12:00

Wed, Fri, Sun

 Montreal Central arrive:

16:47

Daily

 Truro depart:

13:31

Wed, Fri, Sun

 The Océan, Montreal-Halifax

 Moncton depart:

16:32

Wed, Fri, Sun

 Montreal Central depart:

18:55

Wed, Fri, Sun

 Sainte Foy for Québec** arrive:

05:02

Next day

 Sainte Foy for Québec* depart:

22:27

Wed, Fri, Sun

 Montreal Central arrive:

09:18

Next day

 Moncton arrive:

13:06

Next day

 Train 65 Montreal-Toronto

 Truro arrive:

16:05

Next day

 Montreal Central depart:

10:10

Daily

 Halifax, Nova Scotia arrive:

17:35

Next day

 Toronto Union Station arrive:

15:30

Daily

* A VIA Rail shuttle bus leaves from Quebec City Station (Gare du Palais) at 20:45, arriving Sainte Foy station at 21:15 to connect with the train to Halifax.

** A VIA Rail shuttle bus meets the train, leaving Sainte Foy station at 05:20 and arriving Quebec City Station (Gare du Palais) at 05:50.

Montreal to Halifax is 1,346km or 836 miles.

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

Buy an InterRail pass online and explore Europe by train!Buy VIA Rail tickets

What's it like on board the Océan?   Watch the video

Renaissance cars:  The Ocean uses VIA Rail's modern air-conditioned Renaissance cars.  These were built in the UK in the 1990s for the abortive Channel Tunnel NightStar sleeper train service, but instead of running from London to Amsterdam & Frankfurt or Edinburgh and Glasgow to Paris, they were sold to VIA Rail and now run between Montreal & Halifax.  Bringing up the rear of the Ocean is a classic stainless steel 1954 dome-observation 'Park' car, used as the lounge for Sleeper Plus class passengers.

Economy class reclining seats...

If all you can afford is an Economy Class seat, don't worry.  The Renaissance seats cars were purpose-built for overnight journeys, with deep recline and spacious 2+1 configuration across the car width.  You step up into your seat from the aisle, as the seats are raised on a plinth giving you a welcome sense of private space.  Most seats are unidirectional and forward-facing but at one end of each car you'll find some bays of 4 seats around a table and 2 face-to-face seats across a table.

VIA Rail renaissanceeconomy seats   Economy seat on the Ocean   Renaissance seats car

Economy class lounge car...

There are two Renaissance lounge cars, one each side of the restaurant car.  The one on the Economy seats side of the restaurant car acts as the Economy Class lounge and has a food counter selling tea, coffee, wine, beer and snacks.  The one on the sleeping-car side of the restaurant car makes a pleasant place to wait for a restaurant table to be available or to play cards, for example.

Lounge car exterior   Renaissance lounge

Sleeper Plus class...

Each Renaissance sleeping-car features 10 private sleeper compartments, all with an upper & lower berth, two 120V power outlets, and an en suite featuring either a washbasin and toilet, or (in half the compartments) a shower, washbasin and toilet.  All necessary bedding, towels, bottled water, body gel & shampoo are provided and meals in the restaurant car are included in Sleeper Plus class.  Sleepers seem to cost the same whether they are the sort with a shower or not, so book early and grab one with a shower!  Only whole compartments are sold, so solo passengers will be charged for a whole private compartment.

VIA Rail Renaissance 2-bed sleeper   Caledonian Sleeper at London Euston
Renaissance sleeper in day mode

2-berth sleeper in night-time mode...

 

The same sleeper, converted to seats mode...

En suite toilet & shower   In bed in a sleeper on the Ocean   Sleeper corridor

En suite toilet & shower.

 

Lying in bed...  You can see the door to the en suite.

 

The sleeper corridor.

The restaurant car...

Passengers in Sleeper Plus class enjoy meals in the restaurant car included in the fare, and table reservations will be taken before each meal.  If space is available Economy class passengers can also use the restaurant car.  The menu has several choices of starter, main and dessert, with tea or coffee afterwards.  Alcoholic drinks are available at extra cost, a glass of red or white wine typically costs around Can$8 and there are also microbrewery beers.  VIA make it clear that these are 'catered' meals rather than prepared by a chef, but in spite of that the food is remarkably good.

Restaurant car on VIA Rail's Ocean   Beef bourguignon for dinner

A restaurant with a view...

 

A 3-course dinner is served...

Chicken noodles for lunch   Restaurant car on the Montreal-Halifax train

...and breakfast then a 3-course lunch next day.

 

The restaurant car with tables for four & for two...

Sleeper Plus observation-dome-lounge:  The famous Park car...

There's a vintage gem of a car at the rear of the train.  In 1954 the Canadian Pacific Railway built 18 classic stainless steel dome-observation cars for the rear end of its premier transcontinental train the Canadian, all named after Canadian national parks.  A 'Park' car brings up the rear of VIA Rail's Canadian to this day, and VIA also use a Park car at the rear of the Ocean as the luxury lounge and vista dome exclusively for Sleeper Plus passengers - there's no access for Economy seats passengers.  It's a wonderful place to spend the day and socialise, with complimentary tea, coffee and soft drinks available and snacks on sale from the counter in the Mural Lounge.

Evangeline Park at Halifax station   Bullet lounge

The Ocean's 'Park' car - this is Evangeline Park parked at Halifax.  The Park car is the place to spend your daytime time between meals, if you're a sleeper passenger.

 

The Bullet Lounge at the rear offers views back along the winding single track & there's complimentary tea & coffee...

Vista dome   Mural lounge

The vista dome.  The stairs come up from the bullet lounge below.  Seats are first-come, first-served, but it's not difficult to find a place when you want...

 

The Mural Lounge, under the dome, with staffed counter serving complimentary tea, coffee & soft drinks, and selling snacks & souvenirs...

An illustrated journey on the Océan...   Watch the video

Montreal - Nelson's column   Montreal old quarter

1.  Montreal:  A great city with a distinctively French flavour, yet also thoughtfully provided with its very own Nelson's Column - pictured above left...  If you're coming from Toronto by connecting VIA train, see the information & photos here.

Montreal station   Art deco freize at Montreal Central Station

2.  Montreal Gare Centrale was opened in 1943.  There are art deco friezes at each end of the main hall, you could almost be in a French or Belgian station.  More about the station:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Station_(Montreal)

VIA Business Lounge at Montreal Central Station   Check in for the Ocean   Departure board at Montreal

3. Sleeper passengers can use the comfortable Montreal VIA Business Lounge before departure...

 

4.  Just before boarding starts, sleeper passengers check-in & make a dinner reservation just outside the lounge...

Boarding the Ocean at Montreal   Sleeper Plus class

5.  You board the train, greeted at the door by your sleeper attendant, and settle into your private sleeper in its seats mode...

The train leaves Montreal   Crossing the St Lawrence river

6.  The train leaves Montreal and crosses the St Lawrence river as first sitting for dinner is called...

At dinner   Our just desserts

7.  Dinner in the diner...  Seafood chowder, beef bourguignon with potatoes dauphinoise, cake and coffee.

Chocolates on the pillow...   Night night!

8.  Time for bed...  When we return to our compartment our sleeper attendant Kathryn has made up our beds, complete with chocolates on the pillow.  Nighty night!

Sleeper in the morning   Mist-shrouded hills of New Brunswick

9.  Good morning New Brunswick!  We're following a river, early morning mist shrouding the hills, and in several places intrepid fly-fisherman are trying their luck...

A lake over breakfast   Porridge

10.  Breakfast with a view.  Porridge, coffee, juice and frittata as lakes, forest & rural farms pass by outside...

Asparagus & ham frittata...   Rural farmland
Bullet lounge, looking forwards   Looking back from the bullet lounge

11.  Bullet Lounge.  Top up on the complimentary coffee, pull up a lounge chair, admire the orchids and look back along the tenuous ribbon of rails which link Montreal with Nova Scotia...  Note the steps up to the dome in the left-hand photo.

Waterlogged scenery

12.  Forest, trees & more forest - with many waterlogged clearings...

Dome car!   Crossing a major river, seen from the bullet lounge

13.  Vista dome time!  Time to go up into the dome for some sightseeing...

Soup   The Ocean stops at Moncton New Brunswick

14.  Lunch is served.  Soup, Chinese noodles with chicken then sugar pie.  Moncton New Brunswick is a major stop and there's time to stretch your legs on the platform...

Lake

15.  The Ocean passes from New Brunswick into Nova Scotia...

Forest   Forest and river
Nova Scotia scenery   Another lake
Murals at Truro station, Nova Scotia   CN freight locomotives

16.  Murals at Truro, the easternmost passenger station in North America.

  17.  Passing Canadian National freight trains.
View from the front of the dome!

18.  A fabulous view of another Nova Scotia lake from the vista dome...

Side view from the dome   Approaching Halifax

19.  Approaching Halifax the train rounds the Bedford Basin.   After the Basin, the Ocean passes through a deep rock-cliff cutting, past some giant grain elevators and into Halifax station...

VIA Rail's Ocean, arrived at Halifax Nova Scotia

20.  Good evening Halifax!  The Ocean has arrived at Canada's prime Atlantic seaport...

Inside Halifax station   Halifax station exterior

21.  Halifax station, opened in 1928 near pier 21 & the ocean terminal, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halifax_railway_station_(Nova_Scotia)

Recommended hotel:  The Westin Nova Scotian...  Check prices & book

The historic Nova Scotian Hotel, now the Westin Nova Scotian, is right next to the station, indeed it was originally a Canadian National Railway hotel and has its own entrance direct from the station booking hall.  It's a very comfortable place to stay with a good range of excellent local microbrewery beer in the bar.  For more historical information about the Hotel Nova Scotian see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Westin_Nova_Scotian.

Westin Nova Scotian Hotel   Hotel lobby

Things to see in Halifax & Nova Scotia...

Statue of Samuel Cunard, Halifax   Pier 21, Halifax

Statue of Samuel Cunard who started his trans-Atlantic shipping line from Halifax...

 

Pier 21, now the immigration museum.  In WW2 the Queen Mary & Queen Elizabeth docked here & thousands of Canadian & US troops went to war through this pier.  Post-war, many war brides arrived here to start new lives.  See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pier_21.

Anchor segment from Halifax explosion 1917   Halifax town hall

The world's largest non-nuclear explosion occurred in Halifax on 6 December 1917 when the French munitions ship SS Mont Blanc collided with the Norwegian SS Imo and blew up.  This piece of anchor was blown 2.35 miles, right across Halifax. The town hall clock (above right) stopped permanently at 9:07pm, the time the explosion occurred.  See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halifax_Explosion.

View of Halifax   Lieutenant Governor's residence, Halifax

Halifax clock tower, a symbol of the city...

 

The Lieutenant-governor's residence, Halifax.

Titanic graves, Fairview cemetery   Titanic graves, Fairview cemetery

The Titanic graves, Fairview cemetery.  After the sinking of the Titanic in April 1912, the cable-laying ship Mackay-Bennett had the sombre task of recovering bodies.  Over 330 victims of the sinking are buried in Halifax, most here in the Fairview cemetery.

Ernest Freeman's grave   Grave of the unknown child, Titanic graves.

Ernest Freeman's grave.  Signed on as senior steward, but in fact secretary to White Star chairman Bruce Ismay who paid for the stone.  See www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-victim/ernest-edward-samuel-freeman.html .

Tomb of the unknown child, paid for by the crew of the Mackay-Bennett.  The 2-year-old has now been identified by DNA testing, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sidney_Leslie_Goodwin

Peggys Cove lighthouse   Peggys Cove overview

Peggys Cove...  The much-visited picture-perfect Nova Scotian fishing village some 25 miles from Halifax.

Peggys Cove, Nova Scotia
Ryers Lobster Retail, Peggys Cove Rd, Nova Scotia   Lobsters for lunch

Lobster lunch..Ryers Lobsters just beyond Peggys Cove serves Nova Scotia's best fast food:  Freshly-cooked lobster.

With thanks to Les of www.halifaxtaxitours.com for the excellent tour of Halifax & Peggys Cove

Watch the videoMontreal to Nova Scotia by train...



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