After several years of questions from passengers, VIA Rail has now changed its policy to permit pets on trains in Southwestern Ontario and the Windsor-Quebec City Corridor. Pets will now be able to travel with their humans, in both business and economy class, provided they remain in a hard or soft pet carrier and are placed on the floor in front of their human’s seat.
Reservations for pets must be made at least 48 hours in advance by calling 1-888-VIA-RAIL and will cost $50 plus tax per direction of travel.
While there is no explicit limit on the size of the pet, it must be comfortable in its carrier, and the maximum size for the carrier is 55 cm (21.5 in.) long, 40 cm (15.5 in.) wide and 27 cm (10.5 in.) high. Booking the adjacent seat is recommended for pets traveling in larger carriers that will not easily fit between the passenger’s legs, but the pet carrier must remain on the floor and not be placed on the seat.
Before planning a trip with your pet, review the whole of the new policy on VIA Rail’s site, including tips on ensuring a safe and comfortable trip for your pet.
Larger dogs can still travel as checked baggage in a hard crate on the limited number of corridor trips where checked baggage is still available.
The new policy does not apply to service and support dogs. For VIA Rail’s policy on service animals, please see: Travelling with a Guide Dog, Service Dog or Emotional Support Dog
The opportunity to travel with a pet has been one of the most requested changes at SWOTA’s public meetings, right after more frequent services and better bus connections. However, because many of the people hoping to travel with their pets are seniors or young people on lower incomes, we hope that VIA Rail will keep the pet fare pricing under review.
VIA Rail’s change of policy follows the introduction of pet fares on most Amtrak routes in the Midwest and northeastern United States, which have been gradually phased in since 2013. Amtrak charges US$25 for a pet weighing up to 20 lbs.
GO Transit is also trialing a new pet policy, following the common practice on most European railways of allowing passengers to travel with leashed dogs as well as other pets in carriers. However, dogs are only allowed on off-peak weekday GO trains between 9:30 am and 3:30 pm or after from 6:30 pm, and on weekends and holidays. This trial will run until October 15.
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