Priority boarding and additional assistance
At many stations, passengers in Sleeper, Touring or Sleeper Touring class and Business class can enjoy priority boarding. Please check beforehand if your departure station(s) have priority boarding.
Seniors with difficulty walking, passengers with young children, pregnant women and all passengers with reduced mobility may also board the train before other passengers at stations where this is possible.
If you qualify for any one of these categories, please mention this when you book your ticket. Then come to the station early and let station staff know what help you have requested.
Passengers who need assistance in attending to their personal needs (eating, medical care, personal hygiene) during their trip must travel with a companion capable of providing such assistance. The companion travels free in the same class of service.
Where necessary, the companion is expected to assist VIA personnel in boarding and disembarking the passenger and in helping the passenger move about while on board.
To take advantage of this privilege, the special needs traveller must present, for each trip, a valid card from a recognized association or institution for persons with disabilities, or a recent letter dated within the last 9 months (unless the letter states that the condition is permanent) and signed by a physician. Since the escort must be able to take the responsibilities related to such status, the companion must be at least 12 years old.
To be valid, the letter must describe exactly which of the following personal needs the traveller cannot attend to him/herself:
- Personal hygiene
- Medical care (administration of medication, supervision by a nurse, etc.)
Children: In cases where a child cannot travel alone, an escort is not allowed. Examples:
- Child under the age of 8.
- Child ages 8 to 11 on a trip where they are not entitled to travel alone according to our "unaccompanied children" service (travelling in sleeper or overnight for example).
Visually-, hearing- or speech-impaired travellers
We recommend that our visually-impaired clients find out about the services available to them by contacting one of our sales agents by telephone at 1 888 842-7245 or from one of our ticket counters at the station nearest you.
If you are hearing- or speech-impaired, contact us via a teletypewriter (TTY) at 1 800 268-9503 (toll-free).
In most locations where we have personnel, our staff can escort you to the platform, assist you in boarding and disembarking from the train, and help with loading and unloading your baggage. You can even benefit from priority boarding five minutes before regular boarding commences.
Once on board, we will be pleased to give you information on our menus and services. If you like, we can notify you of any schedule changes as well as your arrival at the destination.
To benefit from these services, we suggest that you identify yourself to VIA personnel once you arrive at the station and as soon as you get on board. If you are speech-impaired, please bring written instructions to inform station and on-board personnel of your itineraries, connections and needs.
Passengers with reduced mobility will receive special attention from our personnel. These special services vary from one region to another depending on station facilities and train cars.
Please purchase your tickets by telephone at 1 888 VIA-RAIL (1 888 842-7245) or in person at one of our ticket counters to let us know which special services you require.
If you are hearing or speech-impaired, contact us via a teletypewriter (TTY) at 1 800 268-9503.
Travelling with a companion
In certain circumstances, VIA Rail offers free travel to one companion accompanying a person with disabilities. Any additional persons needed to assist in helping those with disabilities board and disembark will be offered the best available fare.
In VIA Rail stations
To find out more about the adapted services available in our stations, including specialized public transportation, visit the Web page about our stations, or call one of our agents at 1 888 VIA-RAIL (1 888 842-7245) or TTY 1 800 268-9503 (hearing impaired).
VIA Rail has a limited number of stations equipped with high-level platforms or mechanical lifts. Where such facilities are available, VIA Rail will help those with disabilities board and disembark from the train, subject to limitations of size and weight of the persons and their equipment.
On board the train
All VIA trains are accessible to travellers in wheelchairs and are equipped with wheelchair tiedowns, narrow wheelchairs, tools to reduce the width of certain manual wheelchairs, and grab bars in washrooms. However, the availability of said services vary according to the train equipment in use. You may view diagrams of cars that are accessible to travellers using wheelchairs.
Some trains have baggage cars which offer another option to store wheelchairs or scooters during the trip.
To find out which train cars will be used on your departure, please call VIA Rail (toll-free) at 1 888 VIA-RAIL (1 888 842-7245) or TTY 1 800 268-9503 (hearing impaired).
On VIA's transcontinental trains, travellers who are unable to come to the dining car or snack counters may have their meals served at their seat by VIA personnel.
Some VIA sleeping cars can accommodate passengers travelling on stretchers. A minimum of 48 hours' notice is required.
Wheelchairs and Scooters
Some passengers can board the train independently without sitting in their wheelchair or scooter. Other passengers need to board the train while remaining in their wheelchair or scooter. In either case, there are maximum weights that VIA can safely handle. Here are some examples.
Stations with No Stairs or Elevators
At many of our stations, the maximum weight that VIA can safely handle is 272kg (600lbs). This is where the passenger and/or their wheelchair need to be lifted up from the station platform to the train door.
Station with Stairs
At stations with stairs that go down to the platform (ex. Montréal Central Station and Kingston), the maximum weight that the inclined stairs lifts can safety handle varies from 204kg (450lbs) to 225kg (495lbs). VIA may be able to provide alternative options at these stations to accommodate needs up to 272kg (600lbs).
In order to ensure that a wheelchair or scooter is able to fit safely through the doors of the train equipment, you may view door width dimensions for our different train cars and routes.
For more details, please call VIA Rail (toll-free) at 1 888 VIA-RAIL (1 888 842-7245) or TTY 1 800 268-9503 (hearing impaired).
Travelling with a guide dog
Travelling with a guide dog or service animal
Your guide dog or service animal* always travels free. And to make sure both you and your animal are comfortable, we will provide you with a second seat free of charge in Economy class or Business class. On certain departures you may also occupy a double bedroom at a reduced fare. Your guide dog or service animal must wear a harness or leash.
Please note that this policy only applies to guide dogs and service animals and not to pets that must travel in a baggage car. We also ask that you tell us in advance if you wish to travel with a guide dog or service animal.
* Guide dog and service animals are certified working animals that were trained in order to help you. A certificate from a recognized institution may be requested.
Service animal trainers
If you are a service animal trainer, we ask that you provide us with proof of your occupation. Once this condition has been satisfied, you may bring free of charge one guide dog or service animal on board your train with you. In both Economy class and Business class, you will get a second seat free of charge so that both you and your animal are assured of maximum comfort. On certain departures you may also occupy a cabin for two at a reduced fare.