It’s official – the Ocean will be resuming service in August, with the first departure from Halifax on Wednesday August 11th. Service will be once per week to start with, similar to the gradual resumption of services in western Canada, with the first departure from Montreal on Sunday August 15th.
The once-per-week schedule is expected to be in place until October 1, 2021, but this remains subject to change. Fare and accommodation availability details should start to appear on the VIA Rail website in the near future, as Reservia is updated to reflect the new schedule. For up-to-date information see https://www.viarail.ca/en/explore-our-destinations/trains/atlantic-canada/montreal-halifax-ocean
Public health measures will be similar to western long distance services. Passengers will be required to remain at their seat or in their cabin for the duration of the trip, and are asked to limit their movements throughout the train. Masks are required on board except when eating and drinking, or when inside a cabin. All meals in sleeper class will be served in room, and economy class will have food service provided by cart. Although the consist will include service cars, the lounge areas will not be accessible at this time.
A deadhead equipment move from Montreal to Halifax is planned for Monday July 12, to bring a full train set to Halifax to prepare for the service resumption. This may seem early, but the a long hiatus many new crew will need to be hired and trained, and perhaps past crew re-trained, before the service can resume. The consist will be a version of the hybrid Renaissance-Stainless Steel (HEP) consist used before the pandemic, with no Park car or Skyline at this time.