Rocky Mountaineer

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Rocky Mountaineer
Rocky Mountaineer logo.png
Rocky Mountaineer train.jpg
HeadquartersVancouver, British Columbia
Reporting markRMRX
LocaleBritish Columbia and Alberta, Canada
Dates of operation1990 (1990)–Present
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge

Rocky Mountaineer is a Canadian rail-tour company in Western Canada that operates trains on three rail routes through British Columbia and Alberta.


VIA Rail Canada[edit]

The Rocky Mountaineer began as a once weekly VIA Rail daytime service between Calgary, Jasper and Vancouver on June 9, 1988, called the 'Canadian Rockies by Daylight.'.[1] This service was the same as it is today, with an overnight stop in Kamloops. Trains departed Vancouver on Sundays, with trains to Jasper and Calgary (by way of Banff) departing Monday morning. These were express services, with no intermediate stops. Return service began westward on Thursdays from Calgary and Jasper, terminating on Friday in Vancouver.[2] On June 4, 1989, VIA began its second season of the service, renamed the service the 'Rocky Mountaineer.' Scheduling remained the same as the previous season.[3] The final Summer Rocky Mountaineer under VIA branding departed Calgary and Jasper on October 12, 1989, and arrived in Vancouver on October 13.[4] VIA Rail experienced massive reductions in scheduling in 1990, resulting in the Southern transcontinental service being terminated. Service on the Rocky Mountaineer continued through the winter of 1990,[5] being removed from schedules and marketing in May 1990.[6]

Private operation[edit]

After the sale of the branding in 1990, the current company was founded by the Armstrong Group in 1990, and is based in Vancouver, British Columbia. It ran its first train on May 27, 1990.[7] It is the busiest privately owned passenger rail service in North America, having transported over one million passengers since 1990.


In July 2020, the company announced the suspension of its service for the remainder of the 2020 season in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.[8] The company's decision to refuse to issue passenger refunds, contrary to its published cancellation policy at the time of ticket purchase, has generated negative media attention. In October 2020, a Toronto CTV consumer alert article reported over 200 passengers were still fighting for compensation from The Rocky Mountaineer.[9]


Rocky Mountaineer has been awarded the "World's Leading Travel Experience by Train" at the World Travel Awards seven times[10] for its GoldLeaf service and was recognized by National Geographic Magazine as one of the "World’s Best Journeys" in 2007. The Society of American Travel Writers, the world's largest organization of professional travel journalists and photographers, rated the Rocky Mountaineer as the world's top train ride in 2009.[11]


The Rocky Mountaineer boards passengers at Banff, Alberta, showing its former livery.
Two Goldleaf double deck panorama wagons of the Rocky Mountaineer in the station of Jasper

Rocky Mountaineer operates over 75 railcars in its fleet:

Previous equipment: GE B36-7 locomotives leased from BC Rail.[citation needed]


Rocky Mountaineer currently operates train journeys on three routes, all in Canada, with a fourth in the United States to begin operation in 2021. Two additional routes (one in Canada and one international) are no longer operated.

Future routes[edit]

Former routes[edit]

  • Whistler Mountaineer/Whistler Sea to Sky Climb: This route was a day trip operating between North Vancouver and Whistler on Canadian National Railway trackage. It was discontinued after the 2015 season and incorporated into the overlapping Rainforest to Gold Rush route.[16]
  • Coastal Passage: This route was a day trip operating between Seattle and Vancouver on BNSF Railway trackage, intended to provide travellers from the United States with easier access to the other Vancouver-based routes. It was discontinued after the 2019 season due to low demand.[16]

Service levels[edit]

Upper level of Rocky Mountaineer GoldLeaf
Lower dining level on GoldLeaf


Operating on all routes, Rocky Mountaineer's GoldLeaf service is a custom-designed, bi-level, glass-domed coach with full-length windows and reclining seats that can be rotated to accommodate groups of four. Guests on board this service are attended to by three to four onboard hosts, in addition to the culinary team. Guests are offered hot meals prepared on board the train, served to them in the lower level dining car. Beverages and snacks are also offered to guests throughout the journey. The two levels of the GoldLeaf coach are accessible by a spiral staircase or an ADA elevator.[17][18]

GoldLeaf service will not be offered on the future Rockies to the Red Rocks route, as the coaches are taller than Amtrak's Superliner cars, and thus would not be able to clear the 28 tunnels on the planned route.[19]

Rocky Mountaineer SilverLeaf


Operating on the same routes as GoldLeaf, Rocky Mountaineer's SilverLeaf service is a custom-designed, single level glass domed coach with oversized windows and reclining seats. Guests onboard are attended to by two to three onboard hosts, and offered a hot entrée option for breakfast and lunch served at their seat and plated to their preference. Complimentary beverages are served throughout the journey, including: wine, beer, spirits, and non-alcoholic drinks. Gourmet snacks are also offered throughout the journey.[17][18]

Trip structure[edit]

Rocky Mountaineer trains operate exclusively during the day to maximize scenic views, therefore, no sleeper service is offered. All trips include overnight stops at which passengers disembark and stay in hotels.

As Rocky Mountaineer is primarily a railtour service, not an intercity passenger train, all journeys are end-to-end. Between their origin and destination, trains only stop for overnight layovers, and no passengers may begin or end their journeys at these stations. The one exception to these provisions is the First Passage to the West route, which has an intermediate stop at Lake Louise where westbound passengers may board and eastbound passengers may disembark. No tickets are sold solely for the Banff-Lake Louise portion of the trip.

Trains only operate in the tourist season of April to October.

Connecting services[edit]

En route between Banff and Kamloops

Rocky Mountaineer train journeys often include bus connections between stations and hotels. Packages may also include bus connections to nearby cities (such as from Banff to Calgary).

The only station served by both Rocky Mountaineer and other passenger rail services is Jasper, which is also served by VIA's Canadian and Jasper-Prince Rupert trains. However, single-ticket connections between Rocky Mountaineer and VIA are not offered. In other cities served by both companies, Rocky Mountaineer operates its own stations.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Greenlaw, Christopher (2007). VIA Rail. St. Paul, Minnesota: MBI Publushing. pp. 116–121. ISBN 9780760325292.
  2. ^ VIA: Canada's passenger train network. System Timetable. Montreal: VIA Rail Canada. May 1, 1988. p. 51.
  3. ^ 1989 Via Rail Annual Report (PDF). Ottawa: VIA Rail Canada. December 31, 1989. p. 14. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  4. ^ VIA National Timetable: Summer/Fall Edition. Montreal: VIA Rail Canada. April 30, 1989. p. 51.
  5. ^ VIA National Timetable. Montreal: VIA Rail Canada. January 15, 1990. p. 40.
  6. ^ VIA National Timetable. Montreal: VIA Rail Canada. May 27, 1990. pp. 24–25.
  7. ^ Johnston 2016, p. 50
  8. ^ "Rocky Mountaineer suspends remainder of 2020 season due to pandemic | Rocky Mountaineer". Retrieved 2020-10-09.
  9. ^ "Iconic Canadian train ride refusing refunds for passengers". Toronto. 2020-10-07. Retrieved 2020-10-09.
  10. ^ "Rocky Mountaineer GoldLeaf Service". 2012. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  11. ^ "Travel writers select the world's top 10 train rides". Travel Industry Today. 16 July 2009. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  12. ^ a b c "Fact Sheet" (PDF). Rocky Mountaineer. October 2013. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  13. ^ "Stadler Goldleaf" (PDF). Stadler. August 2016. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  14. ^ a b c d "Routes". Rocky Mountaineer.
  15. ^ November 19; 2020. "Digest: Rocky Mountaineer to launch Colorado-Utah route | Trains Magazine". Retrieved 2020-11-24.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  16. ^ a b "Rocky Mountaineer Axes Seattle-Vancouver Route". Latte Luxury News.
  17. ^ a b "Rocky Mountaineer". Rocky Mountaineer.
  18. ^ a b Source: Rocky Mountaineer – 25 Years of Life Changing Experiences – 2015 Canada Train travel Guide (page 19)
  19. ^ November 23, Bob Johnston |; 2020. "Rocky Mountaineer targets 'California Zephyr' scenery with SilverLeaf cars | Trains Magazine". Retrieved 2020-11-24.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)


  • Johnston, Bob (February 2016). "It takes more than scenery". Trains. 76 (2).

External links[edit]