In late November, as part of celebrating the United Nations International Day for persons with disabilities, Donna wrote an article for Via Rail describing her journey to and from Québec City in late October.
A journey where Via Rail fulfilled all of her needs and requirements as a vision impaired passenger traveling with a cane, and one where all of the pandemic requirements and restrictions were met.
That letter is below.
Traveling by Train During a Pandemic
I was never afraid to travel at this time and at the end of it all; I am delighted to report that my trip from Toronto to Québec City was one where I enjoyed an adventure free from any sort of pandemic concerns and most of all! My needs and requirements as a vision impaired passenger traveling with a cane were all dealt with efficiently and professionally and on the whole, staff went above the call of duty to support and assist.
I never even noticed that this train trip took about 10 hours each way with a stop in Montreal to and from québec City. It did not even matter that we had to wear our masks through out the trip. At the station, and on board the train.
When I phoned Via Rail to make my booking, the service agent immediately put me at ease when I told him that I was vision impaired and traveling with my cane. I also told him that a sighted friend would be accompanying me and in response he told me that Via Rail would take care of me and my needs even if I would be traveling with a sighted friend. This was my first cue that Via Rail would live up to my expectations.
Via Rail provided the customary confirmation of my booking along with a separate email to acknowledge that they had noted my accessibility requirements. Something that I hope airlines would be doing as well especially now at this time.
We had to wear our masks for all of the time and social distancing was strictly adhered to. This however did not prevent the Via Rail staff from carrying out their duties with wonderful alacrity, friendliness, and super customer service. Especially when it came to fulfilling the needs of me as a vision impaired passenger.
The staff were attentive from start to finish; helping me with my luggage on and off the train, assisting me to keep my meal on my table whenever the train rocked a bit too much, and overall, I could not have asked for anything more.
One of the features of Via Rail’s service was when I discovered that there were Braille signs in the washroom! Again, something that I hope airlines would think of including in their washrooms if they have not already done so.
I congratulate Via Rail on their end to end services! From the phone call to make a booking to the final step in a journey when they assist in taking one’s luggage off the train and then going the extra mile to assist in finding a cab!
I plan to take another train trip soon and I look forward to traveling Via Rail once more!