Great Canadian Railtour targets northern cruise ships 

The Great Canadian Railtour Company – one of two companies expected to bid for the right to provide passenger rail service between North Vancouver and Whistler – announced it will launch a passenger tourist train out of Prince Rupert this summer.

Starting on May 27, the North Coast Explorer will offer 36 departures from Prince Rupert and following the Skeena River. The three-hour rail trip is designed as a shore excursion for cruise ship passengers.

Prince Rupert will open a new cruise ship facility this spring.

In May 2003, Radisson Seven Seas Cruises scheduled an arrival in Prince Rupert and GCRC ran a test run of the North Coast Explorer which sold out in less than two days.

"The guest response to the scenery and service onboard the North Coast Explorer convinced us of the outstanding tourism potential of this region. Past experience tells us many of the travellers will return to explore the area on their own," said Peter Armstrong President and CEO of GCRC.

The North Coast Explorer has been developed in partnership with the Prince Rupert Port Authority and the West Coast Railway Association (WCRA), operators of the West Coast Railway Heritage Park in Squamish.

GCRC is utilizing two vintage diesel locomotives and an open-air observation car owned by WCRA, and four fully reconditioned passenger rail coaches owned by GCRC.

"The combination of vintage rail equipment running along the historic CN mainline with the backdrop of the spectacular North Coastal Mountains is sure to take the cruise ship passengers back in time to the romantic era of train travel," says Don Evans, Executive Director of the WCRA. "It’s exciting to be part of this innovative partnership, creating new tourism rail products that British Columbians can be proud of."

Whistler Railtours, the other company expected to submit a proposal for passenger rail service to Whistler, previously announced an operating partnership with CN Rail. CN also operates its Skeena passenger train, which runs between Prince Rupert and Jasper, Alta. The Skeena train is also a major tourist draw and is expected to complement the cruise ship business in Prince Rupert.

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