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Specific needs

Travel is for everyone. But since everyone is different, we understand that you may have specific needs, and we’ll do our best to meet them.

Do you have allergies or a medical condition? Does your child have to travel alone? In this section, you’ll find all the information you need to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

If you have a disability or plan to travel with a guide, service, training, or emotional support dog, you may also want to visit our Accessibility page.

Travel tips

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Our special and adapted services may vary from one region to another, depending on the station facilities and train cars. To help ensure that your individual needs are met and that your trip is as comfortable and pleasant as possible, please keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Book your trip at least 48 hours in advance.
  • You can purchase your tickets by calling us at 1 888 VIA-RAIL (1 888 842-7245) or TTY 1 800 268-9503?(for the hearing-impaired) or by visiting one of our ticket counters at the station nearest you.
  • When booking your trip, let the agent know whether you require any special services.

VIA suggests that all customers with special service requests arrive at their departure station early for safe and timely access to the correct platform. Please validate VIA station hours, as some stations open 30 minutes prior to scheduled departure times.

Special meals and allergies

Do you require vegetarian, gluten-free, or other specific meal options? We provide special meals on board for travellers with certain medical conditions or dietary restrictions.

For all trips, special meal requests must be made in advance. Please read the instructions for your destination below.

Québec City-Windsor corridor (southern Québec and southern Ontario)

Travellers in Business class can be served special meals, provided that 48 hours’ notice from the first segment (first portion of the itinerary) is given. Please note that a special meal request may not be possible on all routes.

Canadian (Toronto-Vancouver)

Travellers in Sleeper Plus and Prestige classes can be served special meals provided that 10 days’ notice is given.

Ocean (Montréal-Halifax)

Travellers in Sleeper Plus class can be served special meals, provided that 72 hours’ notice is given.

Winnipeg-Churchill route

Travellers in Sleeper Plus class can be served vegetarian meals, provided that 10 days’ notice is given.

Important notice: Special meals are not available in Economy and Touring class. Passengers can inform onboard VIA personnel of their specific needs. The crew will do their best to meet your request whenever possible.

To learn more about our onboard food and drinks offering, take a look at our standard menus for each destination before your trip.

Consult our allergy policy if you suffer from an allergy. Measures can and must be taken by VIA Rail to minimize your risk of exposure to a specific allergen.

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Special meals that can be ordered in advance

Corridor - Business
(48 hours’ notice)

Montréal-Halifax, The Ocean - Sleeper Plus class
(72 hours’ notice)

  • Bland
  • Diabetic
  • Gluten-free
  • Hindu meal
  • Kosher meal
  • Low-calorie
  • Low-cholesterol
  • Low-sodium
  • Muslim meal
  • Lactose- free
  • Vegetarian, lacto-ovo
  • Vegetarian, Oriental
  • Vegetarian, strict
  • Vegetarian, Asian

Toronto-Vancouver, The Canadian - Sleeper Plus & Prestige class
(10 days’ notice)

  • Gluten-free
  • Kosher meal
  • Vegetarian, lacto-ovo
  • Vegetarian, strict

Winnipeg-Churchill - Sleeper Plus class
(10 days’ notice)

  • Vegetarian, lacto-ovo

We take allergies very seriously. If necessary, we won’t hesitate to take measures to minimize your risk of exposure to a specific allergen.

Please contact customer service at 1 888 VIA-RAIL (1 888 842-7245) or 1 800 268-9503?(for the hearing-impaired) at least 48 hours before your departure.

Accommodation process

When a customer indicates that special arrangements are required due to severe allergies, a VIA Rail Contact Centre agent will refer the request to a Customer Relations Specialist for handling.

A Customer Relations Specialist will request medical documentation and accommodations will be made according to the customer’s needs and feasibility.

Examples:

  • Buffer zone
  • Announcements on board asking others to refrain from using products with allergens.
  • Possible refrigeration and heating of meals. *VIA cannot guarantee or prevent cross-contamination when items are placed in refrigerators or warmed in microwaves on board our trains.

Helpful allergy information

At VIA Rail, we understand that specific measures may have to be taken in order to accommodate passengers who suffer from allergies. However, we can’t guarantee an allergen-free environment:

  • We can’t guarantee that food and beverages served on board are free of allergens (seafood, peanuts, nuts, etc.).
  • It is also impossible for us to offer a special meal that is free of allergens.
  • We cannot be held responsible for allergens brought on board by other passengers or for any allergen residue that other passengers may have left on surfaces and seats.
  • We cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of the information printed on the packaging of products which are distributed on board.
  • We cannot allow an unaccompanied minor with allergies to travel alone.
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We suggest the following to any passenger who suffers from one or more allergies:

  • Have in your possession the medications and treatments (epinephrine, asthma inhaler, etc.) that you may need.
  • Bring your own food or snacks.
  • Have in your possession the cleaning wipes you may need for cleansing any surfaces.
  • Check the ingredients on any packaged snacks before you consume them.
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VIA Rail accepts guide dogs, service dogs and emotional support dogs on board all its trains. We also accept pets in carriers in passenger cars for trips within the Windsor-Québec City Corridor. Due to allergies, some passengers may be uncomfortable with the presence of a cat or a dog in their car. To respond to conflicting needs on board, VIA Rail personnel will consider options, such as relocating passengers to separate areas of the train.

If you suffer from an allergic reaction to scented products worn by persons seated nearby, specific measures may be taken by VIA Rail to minimize your exposure to such products by reassigning the seating of customers.

Please contact customer service at 1 888 VIA-RAIL (1 888 842-7245) or 1 800 268-9503?(for the hearing-impaired) at least 48 hours before your departure in order to make a Special Service Request. VIA reserves the right to require that medical documentation be provided describing the customer’s specific condition and what constitutes an adequate accommodation.

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Accommodation process

If a customer experiences an allergic reaction on board a train, he or she may notify a service attendant, who will then notify the Service Manager aboard the train.

The Service Manager shall ensure that accommodations are made according to the customer’s needs, including, as necessary, discreetly reassigning the seat of either the customer who is allergic or the person(s) wearing the scented product, according to the circumstances and in the best interest of all passengers. If the customer who is allergic is seated in a wheelchair tie-down area, the Service Manager will discreetly relocate the person(s) wearing the scented product.

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Helpful information

This policy is directed toward customers who are allergic to scented products. Please also see our allergy policy, which shall continue to apply.

Medical needs

If you have a specific medical condition or need to travel with medical equipment, we recommend reviewing our guidelines before departure to ensure you have a safe and comfortable travel experience.

Passengers requiring medication during their trip must make sure they do not leave it in their checked baggage. Diabetic passengers must carry a sufficient supply of disposable syringes.

Insulin or any other medication that must be kept cool will be stored in a refrigerator, provided that the train has a dining car, or a Skyline or Park car.

Passengers requiring oxygen during their trip are asked to bring their own equipment, be it an oxygen concentrator, an oxygen bottle, or both.

To ensure access to an outlet, it is strongly recommended that travellers using oxygen and respirators travel in a cabin for one or a cabin for two. Passengers travelling in a berth are asked to call us at 1 888 VIA-RAIL (1 888 842-7245) or TTY 1 800 268-9503? (for the hearing-impaired) to ensure that an outlet is accessible.

Oxygen bottles are subject to the following restrictions:

  • You may bring one (1) oxygen bottle in the passenger car
  • It must not exceed 91 cm (36 in.) in length by 15 cm (6 in.) in diameter (maximum volume of 16,000 cubic cm or 1,000 cubic in.)
  • It must be in a proper carrying device that will protect the valve assembly

Important notice: Oxygen bottles are not accepted as checked baggage.

Stretchers for travellers with reduced mobility will be transported free of charge in the baggage car regardless of whether or not the owner travels aboard the same train.

If you think you may need assistance to carry your luggage or board the train, call 1 888 VIA-RAIL (1 888 842-7245) or TTY 1 800 268-9503? (for the hearing-impaired) to inform us of your needs.

Pregnant women are welcome to travel with VIA Rail at any time during their pregnancy and do not need to provide a medical certificate.

If you think you may need assistance to carry your luggage or board the train, call 1 888 VIA-RAIL (1 888 842-7245) or TTY 1 800 268-9503? (for the hearing-impaired) to inform us of your needs.

Unaccompanied minors

Does your child need to take the train alone? Children over a certain age are permitted to travel by themselves on VIA trains, under specific conditions.

To prepare your child and ensure their safety when travelling, make sure to carefully read the following information.

Seven years of age and younger

A child under the age of 8 cannot travel alone on a VIA train. They must be accompanied by a parent or an adult 18 years of age or over.

Eight to 11 years of age

As a general rule, children between the ages of 8 and 11 may travel unaccompanied under certain conditions and if the parent or legal guardian completes and signs a waiver of liability form (VIA form 85-K5909).

This pouch-style form must be signed and validated by an agent at the departure station. A $25 service charge applies (each way). If more than one child per family travel together, the service charge is assessed for each child. Each minor must wear the pouch-style Unaccompanied Minor form around his or her neck at all times for easy identification by VIA crews.

Other conditions:

  • The child can travel only in Economy or Business class.
  • Travel only on direct trains (no connections or transfers), except if an adult can meet the child at the transfer point.
  • The child must not leave before 5:25 a.m. AND trains must arrive before midnight on the same day.
  • An unaccompanied child cannot board or detrain at an unstaffed station.
  • Unaccompanied minors travelling with VIA Rail must not suffer from any serious illness or allergies that can cause severe intoxication or death. If this is the case, VIA reserves the right to refuse carriage of an unaccompanied minor unless a medical authorization can be obtained prior to departure stating that despite their severe medical condition, the child can and is able to travel alone.
  • To ensure their safety, we limit the number of children travelling alone to two per train. We therefore recommend that you make arrangements as early as possible in order to secure your child’s seat aboard.
  • We cannot allow an unaccompanied minor with severe allergies to travel alone. Please consult our allergy policy.

Important notice: Since there is only one staffed station on this route, unaccompanied minors under 12 years old cannot travel on the Sudbury-White River line.

Twelve years of age and older

Children aged 12 and over may travel unaccompanied on VIA trains. However, the unaccompanied minor service can be provided upon request to these children under the same conditions as for children 8 to 11 years of age.

No Unaccompanied Minors on M-O-T (Montréal-Ottawa-Toronto) and Q-M-O (Québec City-Montréal-Ottawa)

The reservation of an Unaccompanied Minor can be done on board these trains only if the child is travelling:

  • M-O-T: to/from any two stations located between MTRL-OTTW or OTTW-TRTO.
  • Q-M-O: to/from any two stations located between QBEC-MTRL or MTRL-OTTW or FALL.
  • Q-M-O to Fallowfield: to/from any two stations located between QBEC-MTRL or MTRL-OTTW or FALL.

Tickets for children travelling alone cannot be purchased through the web site. To make arrangements for children travelling alone, please inquire at a VIA Rail station ticket counter or contact a telephone sales agent at 1 888 VIA-RAIL (1 888 842-7245) or TTY 1 800 268-9503 (for the hearing-impaired).

Only the child’s mother or father, or an appointed adult guardian (at least 18 years of age), is permitted to escort an unaccompanied child.

When bringing the child to a station, or meeting him or her at destination, parents/guardians will go:

  • Toronto: to the Special Service Desk counter.
  • Montréal: to wicket #1 at the ticket counter.
  • Other stations: to any ticket counter.

Parents/guardians must show a piece of photo ID (such as a driver’s licence, government health card, etc.) both when bringing the child to the train and when meeting them at destination. This is a legal requirement, as a court judgment may have prohibited these persons from contacting the child.

Parents/guardians must carefully read the declaration and agree to comply with the instructions and sign the form.

They will also take the minor to the Service Manager on the platform during pre-boarding (30 minutes before departure) and remain in the station until the train departs.

Required conditions for your child’s safety

I attest that this child:

  • does not suffer from any serious illness or allergies that can cause severe intoxication or death. If this is the case, VIA reserves the right to refuse carriage of an unaccompanied minor unless a medical authorization can be obtained prior to departure stating that despite their severe medical condition, the child can and is able to travel alone;
  • is capable of travelling alone, has been informed of the schedule, and will be met at the destination;
  • will carry all travel documents required by applicable laws, and has been instructed to cooperate with and follow the instructions of VIA personnel;
  • must wear VIA form 85-K5909 at all times;
  • will by greeted at the destination station by a designated person who will be on time and have appropriate PHOTO ID (passport, driver’s licence, government health card, etc.); and
  • is between 8 and 11 years old.

Before departure

Instructions

  • Bring the child to the departure station at least 45 minutes prior to departure.
  • Report to the information counter, the ticket office, or a VIA agent. Check where you should report to with the station beforehand.
  • Do not leave the departure station until the train has left.

Important notice : The child must have sufficient funds for meals and incidental expenses.

Traditional and prepaid credit cards, as well as VIA Rail gift cards, are the only forms of payment accepted on certain trains. Please see the following link for more information on onboard payment methods. http://www.buwa18.icu/en/travel-info/onboard-train/methods-payment

We care for your child

VIA will provide the same care and will assume the same responsibility for the child as is normally provided to an adult passenger.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, VIA shall not be responsible for losses or damage sustained or costs incurred in connection with the child’s travel or resulting therefrom, notably if the child does not cooperate with and follow the instructions of VIA personnel.

At destination

Instructions

  • The parent or designated person must visit our web site or call 1 888 VIA-RAIL for the train’s arrival time. In case of a delay, the child will remain in the custody of a VIA Rail representative.
  • The child will be accompanied by a VIA employee to the arrival station. Please expect a certain delay.

Important notice: If the person designated on the form is not at the destination station to meet the child, VIA personnel will then contact that person and ask him or her to meet the child within a reasonable time.

If the child is not picked up within this time, or if VIA is not able to contact either the designated person or the person who signed the form, the child will be handed over to local police.