The train was formerly operated with one or two Budd Rail Diesel Cars. Via Rail began operating the passenger train in 1979. Although the service had been threatened with discontinuation several times, it was suspended indefinitely on March 19, 2011, due to track replacement work. Prior to further inspection of the track, service along the segment between Nanaimo and Victoria was originally planned to resume on April 8, but lack of funding has prevented any of the work from taking place and it is unclear when or if the service will resume. A temporary bus replacement was brought in for the service after the closure, but dropping passenger numbers of less than ten per day caused the service to be discontinued on August 7. On May 10, nearly two months after suspension, the old Budd cars were moved from the roundhouse in Victoria to a secure yard in Nanaimo, in future hopes of starting commuter service from there. On November 5, they were taken off the island to be returned to central Canada; they will be replaced by a new three-car train stock if service resumes. However, in February 2012, the 6-kilometre (4 mi) stretch of track from Esquimalt Station to downtown Victoria was torn up due to bridge conditions of the Johnson Street Bridge. The bridge is planned to be replaced by a new, wider bridge which will not have enough room to place rails along the side of the road again, and therefore Esquimalt Station is now the end of the line.
The train operated one daily round trip, departing Victoria in the morning, and returning from Courtenay in the evening. The 225-mile (362 km) trip took 4 hours and 45 minutes each way. There are future proposals to include a commuter service to operate morning service from Nanaimo to Victoria, that would have debuted as early as March 2012 if the work of replacing the track had happened sooner, and an inter-rail run between Cowichan and Victoria.