Ocean (train)

Last updated
Ocean (Passenger Train).jpg
A Park car brings up the rear of No. 14 at Belmont, Nova Scotia, on August 13, 2005.
Service type Inter-city rail
StatusPartly in service
Locale Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Canada
Current operator(s) Via Rail (1978–)
Former operator(s) IRC (1904–1918),
CN (1918–1978)
Ridership1,487 weekly (FY 2019) [1]
Annual ridership78,353 (FY 2019) [2]
Website Via Rail - The Ocean
Start Montreal, Quebec
End Halifax, Nova Scotia
Distance travelled1,346 km (836 mi)
Service frequencyOne trip in each direction per week.
Train number(s)14, 15 (occasionally 614/615)
On-board services
Class(es) Economy and Sleeper Plus class
Seating arrangementsNo Reserved Economy seating [3]
Catering facilitiesDining car, service car (takeout counter)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in)
Track owner(s) CN (since 2008)
Route map
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0 km
Montreal Central Station
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7 km
4 mi
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Richelieu River
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54 km
34 mi
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100 km
62 mi
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247 km
153 mi
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254 km
158 mi
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311 km
193 mi
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371 km
231 mi
La Pocatière
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439 km
273 mi
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482 km
300 mi
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543 km
337 mi
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572 km
355 mi
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619 km
385 mi
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643 km
400 mi
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665 km
413 mi
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722 km
449 mi
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Restigouche River
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741 km
460 mi
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772 km
480 mi
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797 km
495 mi
Jacquet River
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825 km
513 mi
Petit Rocher
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842 km
523 mi
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913 km
567 mi
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Northwest Miramichi River
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Southwest Miramichi River
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949 km
590 mi
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1042 km
647 mi
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1103 km
685 mi
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Missaguash River
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1119 km
695 mi
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1146 km
712 mi
Springhill Junction
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1243 km
772 mi
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1346 km
836 mi

The Ocean (French: L'Océan), previously known as the Ocean Limited, is a passenger train operated by Via Rail in Canada between Montreal, Quebec, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. It is the oldest continuously operated named passenger train in North America. [4] [5] The Ocean's schedule takes approximately 23 hours, running overnight in both directions. Together with The Canadian and Via's corridor trains, the Ocean provides a transcontinental service across Canada.



The Intercolonial Railway of Canada (IRC) inaugurated the Ocean Limited on July 3, 1904, as a summer-only "limited stop" service to supplement the Maritime Express . In Halifax, it connected with the Dominion Atlantic Railway's luxury train, the Flying Bluenose . [6] During the immigration boom of the early 20th century, the Ocean Limited and other passenger trains on its route saw increased use as they provided key wintertime connections for both the Grand Trunk Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway in moving sponsored immigrants to lands in the Prairie provinces.

Ocean Limited promotional poster, c. 1915 CGR Ocean train 19th Century c137809k.jpg
Ocean Limited promotional poster, c. 1915

In 1918, the IRC was merged into the Canadian National Railways (CNR) and the Ocean Limited continued its operation much as before. During both the First and Second World Wars, the Ocean Limited provided important service to the port of Halifax.

In 1964 the Ocean received ex-Milwaukee Road Skytop Lounge lounge-sleeping cars. [7] :30

CNR dropped the "Limited" from the train's name in 1966 as part of the company's adoption of bilingual names. [8] :99 [9] :285 Despite the name change references to the Ocean Limited remain commonplace. [10]

During a landslide which affected the old IRC line near Rimouski, Quebec, in 1977, for six months CN diverted the Ocean onto another parallel line several hundred kilometres to the south, maintaining the same Halifax–Montreal schedule times.

In 1976, CN placed operation of its passenger services under a new division using the marketing slogan "Via". In April 1978 this division was split off as a separate Crown corporation named Via Rail Canada, taking with it all CN passenger trains and equipment. The new national passenger rail service did not begin to change train names and operations until 1979, following the October 1978 assumption of all CPR passenger trains and equipment.

The Ocean did not get renamed by Via, and in fact became supplanted on the Halifax–Moncton portion of its route in 1985 by another Via train, the Atlantic (formerly the Atlantic Limited), which saw its eastern terminus extended to Halifax from Saint John. This train also assumed the train numbers and equipment of the defunct CN passenger train Scotian , which survived only into the first few years of the Via era.

Under Via, the Ocean underwent several changes in its operation:


Train route (suspended Gaspe branch in brown) (interactive map) VIA Rail Ocean.png
Train route (suspended Gaspé branch in brown) (interactive map)

The route taken by the Ocean runs through eastern Canada including the Island of Montreal and the city's skyline and suburbs, the lower St. Lawrence River valley, the Matapédia River valley, the south shore of Chaleur Bay and the forests of eastern New Brunswick, the Tantramar Marshes, the Cobequid Mountains and Wentworth Valley, the edge of Cobequid Bay and mixed farmland through central Nova Scotia to Halifax.

Rolling stock

Via Ocean 14 Jacquet River NB July 31, 2006 Via Ocean 14 Jacquet River NB July 31 2006.jpg
Via Ocean 14 Jacquet River NB July 31, 2006

Three Renaissance train-sets supported the Ocean route, but the reduction to 3 departures in each direction per week in late 2012 reduced the need to only 2 sets of equipment. These sets range from as few as 14 cars in the off season to as many as 21 cars during the peak summer period, and each includes a baggage car, several coach cars, a dining car bracketed by two service cars, multiple sleeping cars, a transition car (see discussion above) and a "Park" Sleeper Buffet-Lounge Dome Observation Car. The Ocean is almost invariably hauled by a pair of London, Ontario-built GM F40PH locomotives, all of which CAD Railway Industries of Montreal has upgraded to the F40PH-3 model. A third locomotive is sometimes added in the fall and winter to help deal with difficult track conditions.

For several years prior to 2012, Via Rail removed one set of Renaissance equipment from service during the winter for upgrade work and replaced it with Budd-built stainless steel "HEP1" equipment (including a baggage car, coaches, a "Skyline" dome car, a dining car, "Château" sleeper cars, and a "Park" car). This practice ended after the service reduction, as only 2 sets of equipment were required. However, in 2014 and again in 2015, Via added trains during the Christmas holiday period, which they ran using a set of "HEP1" equipment much like in past years. These runs have been popular with railfans and the travelling public, as they provide more types of sleeping accommodations, a dome accessible to coach passengers, and a full dining car with meals cooked on board (a contrast to the catered meals in the normal Renaissance dining cars).

Prior to August 2013, the Ocean ran from Montreal to Matapédia, Quebec, joined to Train 16/17, the "Montréal–Gaspé train" (formerly called the Chaleur) 3 times per week. In Matapédia, the trains were separated with Train 16 continuing to the Gaspé peninsula and Train 14 (the Ocean) continuing to Halifax (and vice versa with Trains 15/17). Train 16/17 had its own locomotive which ran from Montreal, resulting in the combined trains (14 + 16 and 15 + 17) running with three locomotives between Montreal and Matapédia. The Montréal–Gaspé train used Budd-built stainless steel passenger cars, including a "Skyline" dome car. It was not possible to pass between the two trains when connected. Trains 16/17 were suspended due to infrastructure problems on the line to Gaspé, and service will not resume until the line is upgraded.

Related Research Articles

Via Rail Inter-city passenger rail operator in Canada

Via Rail Canada Inc., operating as Via Rail or Via, is a Canadian Crown corporation that is mandated to operate intercity passenger rail service in Canada. It receives an annual subsidy from Transport Canada to offset the cost of operating services connecting remote communities.

Intercolonial Railway Historic Canadian railway linking Central Canada to Maritime provinces

The Intercolonial Railway of Canada, also referred to as the Intercolonial Railway (ICR), was a historic Canadian railway that operated from 1872 to 1918, when it became part of Canadian National Railways. As the railway was also completely owned and controlled by the federal government, the Intercolonial was also one of Canada's first Crown corporations.

The New Brunswick East Coast Railway was a historic railway that operated in the Canadian province of New Brunswick.

<i>Atlantic</i> (train) Canadian passenger train

The Atlantic was a passenger train operated by Via Rail, serving both Canadian and U.S. territory between Montreal, Quebec and Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was previously operated by Canadian Pacific Railway as The Atlantic Limited between Montreal and Saint John, New Brunswick. It formed part of the transcontinental service for both systems.

Montreal Central Station Railway station in Montreal, Canada

Montreal Central Station is the major inter-city rail station and a major commuter rail hub in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Nearly 11 million rail passengers use the station every year, making it the second-busiest train station in Canada, after Toronto Union Station.

Montreal–Gaspé train Suspended passenger train operated by Via Rail between Montreal and Gaspé, Quebec

The Montreal–Gaspé train was a thrice-weekly passenger train operated by Via Rail between Montreal and Gaspé, Quebec.

Halifax station (Nova Scotia)

Halifax station is an inter-city railway terminal in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, operated by Via Rail.

Amqui station

Amqui station is a Via Rail station in Amqui, Quebec, Canada. Located on Boulevard Saint-Benoît Boulevard Ouest, it is a heated and semi-staffed shelter equipped with washrooms and is wheelchair-accessible. Amqui is served by Via Rail's Ocean; the Montreal – Gaspé train was suspended in 2013. Both trains share the same rail line between Montreal and Matapédia.

Matapédia station

Matapédia station is a Via Rail station in Matapédia, Quebec, Canada. It is located on rue MacDonnell, and is staffed and wheelchair-accessible, but there is no ticket agent. It is open daily except Tuesdays. Matapédia is the junction between two rail lines. The east-west former Intercolonial Railway mainline from Halifax to Rivière-du-Loup is joined from the east by a line running along the south coast of the Gaspé Peninsula to the town of Gaspé.

Port-Daniel station

The Port-Daniel station is an inactive railway station built in 1908 by Quebec Atlantic Oriental Railway. The railway line and service was acquired by CN Rail. CN retained the tracks until 1998, but VIA Rail took over passenger service from 1977 to 2013.

Truro station (Nova Scotia)

Truro station is an intercity railway station in Truro, Nova Scotia. It is operated by Via Rail.

The Nouvelle station was a railway station in Nouvelle, Quebec, Canada. It was formerly a Via Rail flag stop serving the Montreal-Gaspé train, but passenger service east of Matapédia station was suspended in 2013. It was served by the Montreal – Gaspé train three days a week in each direction towards Montreal or Gaspé.

Chemin de fer de la Matapédia et du Golfe

The Chemin de fer de la Matapédia et du Golfe is a historic short line railway that operated in eastern Québec from 1998-2008.

The Société du chemin de fer de la Gaspésie is a Canadian short line railway located in eastern Quebec operating 202.2 mi (325.4 km) of track from its interchange with Canadian National Railway (CN) at Matapédia in the west to the end of the line at Gaspé in the east, along the south coast of the Gaspé Peninsula.

Château series

The Château series is a fleet of 29 lightweight streamlined sleeping cars built by the Budd Company for the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1954. Each contained eight duplex roomettes, four sections, three bedrooms, and one drawing room. The cars were named for distinguished French Canadians. Via Rail acquired the fleet from the Canadian Pacific in 1978 and the cars remain in active service.

Quebec Atlantic Oriental Railway

Quebec Oriental Railway

<i>Maritime Express</i>

The Maritime Express was a Canadian passenger train. When it was launched on 1 March 1898, it was the flagship of the Intercolonial Railway (ICR) between Halifax, Nova Scotia and Montreal, Quebec. The train was operated by the Canadian National Railway (CNR) from 1919 until 1964, when it was reduced to a regional service and its name retired.

<i>The Scotian</i> (train)

The Scotian was a named Canadian passenger train service that ran between Montreal, Quebec, and Halifax, Nova Scotia, and was operated by Canadian National Railways and later Via Rail Canada. The Scotian's inaugural run was 16 March 1941.

The Saint-Laurent was a daily passenger train service operated by Via Rail along the St. Lawrence River from Mont-Joli to Montreal and later Quebec City.


  1. "Annual Report 2019" (PDF). viarail.ca. Via Rail Canada. p. 9. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  2. "Annual Report 2019" (PDF). viarail.ca. Via Rail Canada. p. 9. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  3. Via Website and Reservations Staff[ full citation needed ]
  4. Kaminer, Michael (15 March 2018). "The Best Train Rides in Canada". CN Traveller. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  5. Underwood, Jay. "History Follows the Ocean to the Ocean" (PDF). Exporail.org. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  6. "Transport 2000 Atlantic Bulletin - Summer 2004". Archived from the original on 18 May 2006. Retrieved 2012-03-27.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  7. Greenlaw, Christopher C. N. (2007). VIA Rail. Saint Paul, MN: MBI. ISBN   9780760325292. OCLC   71286639.
  8. Underwood, Jay (May–June 2010). "History Follows the Ocean to the Ocean" (PDF). Canadian Rail. Canadian Railroad Historical Association (536): 95–106.
  9. EuDaly, Kevin; et al. (2009). The Complete Book of North American Railroading. Minneapolis: Voyageur Press. ISBN   978-0-7603-2848-4. OCLC   209631579.
  10. "Via Rail service cuts begin on schedule". Montreal Gazette . November 16, 1981. Retrieved 2013-02-26.
  11. "CN acquires three rail subsidiaries and ferry operation of Quebec Railway Corp. (QRC) for CA$49.8 million". Archived from the original on 6 November 2008. Retrieved 2010-08-09.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  12. "Via Rail cuts Montreal-to-Halifax service by half". cbc.ca. 27 June 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  13. Best, Shaun (May 12, 2014). "Via Rail agrees to $10.2-million upgrade in New Brunswick". The Globe and Mail - Canada. Reuters / The Canadian Press.

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Ocean (train) at Wikimedia Commons

External video
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg "The Ocean 🇨🇦 Via Rail, Halifax to Montreal" on YouTube, Wingin' It! Paul Lucas, 2020-11-5