Priority boarding and additional assistance
At many stations, passengers in Sleeper, Touring or Sleeper Plus 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.
Support Person needed
Passengers who cannot travel alone without a Support Person may travel with a companion capable of providing the required assistance. The Support Person must be at least 12 years old and travels free in the same class of service.
If a passenger ONLY requires luggage and/or boarding assistance, a free ticket for a Support Person is not offered since these services are already provided by VIA Rail.
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, there are two options;
In order to travel with the assistance of a Support Person, the passenger must:
a) provide a signed Medical Certificate from a licensed medical doctor or licensed mental health professional (ex. psychiatrist or psychologist), and
b) the Medical Certificate must state that the passenger cannot travel alone without a Support Person, and
c) the Medical Certificate must be dated and signed one year or less prior to the date of train travel, unless the Medical Certificate indicates that the functional limitation is permanent.
Template for the medical certificate: Please download the Confidential Medical Certificate for Passengers Requiring a Support Person and have it completed by your physician. Once completed, the form must be forwarded to (firstname.lastname@example.org/ fax 506 859-3943) for approval. You will be contacted within 48 hours to receive confirmation of approval and instructions on how to reserve the free Support Person ticket.
Present, for each trip, a valid card from a recognized association or institution for persons with disabilities.
Children travelling alone for either option 1 or 2: 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 tie-downs, grab bars in washrooms and narrow wheelchairs for boarding, detraining and accessing the washrooms. However, the availability of said services varies 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.
Once on board at their seat or cabin, passengers cannot circulate throughout the train with their mobility aids due to the narrow corridors.
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 stair lift 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 and Volunteer Handlers
If you are a service animal trainer or volunteer handler of puppies waiting to begin formal training, we ask that you provide us with proof of your occupation as a trainer or volunteer handler such as a business card or letter from the training agency. Once this condition has been satisfied, you may bring free of charge one guide dog, service animal or foster puppy on board your train with you. All animals must be house-broken to be able to make lengthy trips and wear a harness and leash. 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.