The biggest train station in the city and a landmark building within Old Quebec, Gare du Palais continues to operate today as it did a century ago.
Gare du Palais in Quebec City
Located at 450 Rue de la Gare-du-Palais, the train station of the same name is one of the many Heritage Railway Stations in the province. Opened in 1915, the station has carried passengers ever since with the exception of 1976 to 1985. Today, Gare du Palais is served by Via Rail (Canada’s government rail company). The Quebec City to Windsor corridor contains by far the most travelled series of rail routes in the country.
As well, Gare du Palais is the hub for the city’s intercity busses. There are five different companies that run busses in and out of the station. From there you can catch a ride to a large number of cities in the province including Trois-Rivières, Sherbrooke, Drummondville and more.
Routes and Ticket Cost
While Via Rail’s Corridor service goes all the way from Quebec City to Windsor, the main individual routes that arrive in and out of Gare du Palais finish in Ottawa. There are around a dozen stops in between (not all of which are stopped at by every train), but the main three cities in the area are Quebec, Montreal and Ottawa.
On a typical day, five Corridor trains depart from Gare du Palais, at 5:25 am, 8:00 am, 12:40 pm, 3:00 pm and 5:45 pm. All but the last one of the day end up in Ottawa (around a six-hour trip) while the final one finishes in Montreal (around three hours away). As well, six Corridor trains arrive in Gare du Palais, at 9:43 am, two at 12:22 pm, 4:28 pm, 8:26 pm and 9:56 pm. The train at 9:43 and one of the trains at 12:22 originate in Montreal, while the rest originate in Ottawa.
The cost of a trip between Quebec and Montreal is around $40 for economy seats and over $90 for business class. For a trip that goes to Ottawa the cost is around $50 for economy and around $120 for business class.
As well, you can head out east along the Maritime Way all the way to Moncton and Halifax. These trains do not run every day, and require you to first stop at nearby Sainte-Foy station and transfer onto a new line. From there, it takes over 13 hours to travel to Moncton and 18 hours to get to Halifax. Both of these trips are only available on Sundays and run overnight. These trips range from around $100 to $600 depending on the class chosen for your ticket.
There are five bus companies that run services out of Gare du Palais. They all have very different routes and timetables. Below are the companies and the terminus point(s) on their routes. Visit their websites for more information.
- Autobus A1 – Quebec City to Thetford Mines
- Autobus Breton – Quebec City to Saint-Georges
- Intercar – Quebec City to Alma, Baie-Comeau, Saguenay or Sept-Îles
- La Québécoise – Quebec City to Sherbrooke or Victoriaville
- Orléans Express – Quebec City to Drummondville, Gaspé, Montreal, Rimouski or Trois-Rivières
History of the Station
Gare du Palais was not close to being the first train station in Quebec City, but after it was built it became the preeminent one. Opened in 1915, the station was built primarily by the Canadian Pacific Railway but two other companies (the National Transcontinental Railway and the Quebec Central Railway) also used the building. It was originally called Union Station before changing its name not too long after.
The building is designed in the style of the Château Frontenac, which is around 2 km away. There are turrets above the main entrance and a copper roof on top of the stone exterior. Inside, the building has a unique (at the time) L-shape design. This means that multiple trains can arrive at the station at the same time. That feature, its great location near the port and multiple companies investing in its construction meant that the Gare du Palais grew into a much-frequented station.
That changed in 1976 when the city took over the site as part of its plan to build a new highway. The CPR moved its rails and built a new, smaller station a few kilometres away. The Canadian National Railway, meanwhile, moved more of its traffic to the Sainte-Foy Station.
After laying dormant for nearly a decade, Gare du Palais re-opened newly renovated in 1985. Sainte-Foy Station had at this point become Via Rail’s primary passenger station in the city, and Gare du Palais was incorporated by the company as the new final stop on the Corridor routes. Today, the station continues to operate in the heart of Quebec with rail and bus services.
For more information visit the Via Rail website.
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