by Josephine Sinopoli

Train travel and the railroad have had a long and vibrant history in North America, and their glorification in the media has captured the curiosity and imagination of generations. Their growth and development across our land has unified us since 1885 and had major social and economic impacts. With the rise of automobile ownership, rail travel decreased in popularity but has recently returned to favor as an environmentally sound alternative for moving cargo and people–and the addition of massage therapy may increase the public’s interest further.

For many of us, the thought of passenger train travel evokes positive imagery, as it has been romanticised in film, associated with adventure and historically viewed as a luxurious way to travel. Providing today’s particular and demanding customer with an excellent and unforgettable travel experience is at the forefront of Via Rail’s corporate commitments. This independent Crown Corporation, established in 1978, was created as a result of the decline in passenger rail service from both Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific (CP) in the 1960s. VIA Rail has travelled a long way since establishment and is demonstrating that its renewed commitment to the travel experience, customer focus and continuous improvement is entrenched in its decisions.

The lure of a train voyage continues to be the opportunity of traveling safely in comfort without the hassle of airport check-in and confined spaces. The actual enjoyment of the journey enhances the vacation and becomes a memorable part of it. Canada’s answer to the Orient Express is Via Rail’s “Canadian” train. This picturesque four day adventure begins in Toronto, Ontario and travels 2,791 miles (4,492 kilometers) to Vancouver, British Columbia. The stunning views of the Canada’s vast and diverse landscapes amaze and astound its international clientele, such as Australians, Americans, Europeans as well as native-born Canadians and immigrants who choose to see the whole of Canada from the advantage point of an observation deck. This train trek across Canada inspires and stimulates many human senses as the brilliance and reflections of the Great Lakes, the sunset stretching infinitely across the Prairie skies and earthbound peaks of Rockies are etched into memory forever. With this scenery as a backdrop, “the Canadian” is the perfect setting for VIA Rail to continue building on improving client experience.

Via Rail’s constant commitment to improve their customers’ experience has led to a new opportunity that will not only impact their clients’ comfort but also their health and well-being. VIA Rail has contacted and contracted Paul Lewis, R.M.T., and his health care professionals to head up a pilot project. At the end of July through August 2011 on selected (Toronto to Vancouver) departures, passengers on “the Canadian” will have access to a skilled massage therapist ready to provide in-chair massages for a nominal fee. The addition of therapeutic or relaxation treatment to a trip filled with magnificent views and fine dining provides travelers with the opportunity of creating balance and of improving their overall well-being during and even after their trip.

In-chair massage is used in conjunction with or as an alternative to the table massage treatment. Chair massage treatments can be done while fully clothed without the use of lotion. The seated position provides easy access onto and off the chair, therefore allowing clients to enjoy the benefits of this service. This convenient and train-appropriate treatment provides a number of benefits including help with mobility, relief from muscle stiffness or simple rejuvenation and relaxation. In-chair massage can be beneficial for relief of neck, shoulder, back, wrist and hand discomfort and is a great introduction to the overall benefits of massage therapy.

In addition to leading instructional workshops on table and in-chair advanced treatment techniques, Lewis’ two-time Telly award winning DVD entitled In-Chair Massage Instructional made him the most natural choice to assist VIA Rail in realizing their mission and vision.

Lewis and his team are looking forward to this exciting pilot project. Their contribution will add to the majestic wonders of “the Canadian” train. Lewis is also a reflexologist, international presenter and educator. He is a certified CanPro Fitness Specialist. For more information, visit