The Winnipeg to Churchill Train, Canada
Polar bears, beluga whales and Northern Lights, that’s what lies in store for travellers booking a ticket on Canada’s The Churchill Express, the gateway to Canada’s Great White North. Formerly the Hudson Bay Railway, the Winnipeg-Churchill train journeys 1,700km through the northern Manitoba province, from the capital of Winnipeg to remote Churchill, through Saskatchewan.
As economy class comes without showers, meals and a place to sleep, it’s recommended to complete the trip in Sleeper Plus – with meals and cosy accommodation included. The only dry-land connection between remote Churchill and the rest of Canada, the line is truly something special. And who knows, you may even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights from the panoramic dome of the train’s Park Car.
Prices from: CA $550
Carriages: Changes per journey
Departing from: Winnipeg, Churchill
Journey length: 2 nights
The Winnipeg to Churchill train journey
The Churchill Express is the only dry-land connection between Churchill and the rest of Canada, which makes the truly something special. The route runs from Winnipeg, the cosmopolitan capital of Manitoba province all the way the Churchill on the west coast shore of Hudson Bay and nicknamed ‘polar bear capital of the world’. Over 45 hours, the service travels through Manitoba and Saskatchewan, heading north through The Pas, Wabowden, Thompson and Gillam, before arriving at the Port of Churchill on Hudson Bay.
Due to the permafrost, the train goes quite slowly in parts, allowing for great photo opportunities. Northbound trains run twice a week, at 12:05pm on Tuesday and Sundays, arriving in Churchill at around 9am two days later. Southbound trains depart Churchill at 19:00 on Thursdays and Saturdays, pulling into Winnipeg at around 16:45 two days later
The Winnipeg to Churchill train
With durable stainless-steel exteriors, this train is all about function and purpose, safely transporting passengers to the wilds of Canada’s White North. With ample time spent on board, guests can meet new friends in the dining car or visit the Park Car, a highlight of the journey. Featuring a 24-seat clear-topped seating area, the Park Car is added to the train in summer months, perfect for unobstructed viewing or scenery and skies 24 hours a day.
Guests travelling in Sleeper Plus class have the luxury of a private cabin on board the train, able to choose from a triple of double berth. Cheaper options include semi-private accommodation, booths transformed into bunk beds with a curtain for privacy. All Sleeper Plus guests have access to shared showers, and washrooms with a toilet and sink can be found in many private cabins.
Food and drink
While Economy class may lure with its cheaper prices, it’s a no brainer to opt for Sleeper Plus class on The Churchill Express, where meals are complimentary. During the summer months a full dining service is available in the dining car, from cooked breakfasts, sandwiches and salads for lunch and heart cooked meals for dinner. The menu features favourites like omelettes and buttermilk pancakes, burgers, pot roast and baked salmon, all meals coming with complimentary coffee, tea, milk, juice or soft drinks. During the winter months, the time to see the Aurora Borealis, a take-out menu is available – with light meals, snacks and a changeable hot meal. Local wines and beers are a highlight of the menus.
Travel in Sleeper Plus class, and you’ll get a spacious seat, accommodation, all meals included, access to the dining car and access to showers on board. Economy passengers are allocated a spacious seat, and while they have access to the dining car meals are at an additional cost.
Pros and cons
While it may be the only dry-land connection to Churchill, it’s certainly not the most efficient, and passengers should be aware that the train runs very slowly in parts due to frost on the tracks. As there’s no WIFI available, we recommended downloading lots of TV shows and movies beforehand to help pass the time. That said, with the views seen from the train’s windows and warm, comfortable carriages, this is a trip you’ll never forget.