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FAQ's

​​​​​What's a Holiday Train event like?

A typical Holiday Train event goes something like this: The train arrives and pulls to a safe stop in front of the crowd. The stage door lowers and the band opens with its first song. After that, a brief presentation takes place with local food bank officials and other dignitaries. Once complete, the band resumes performing a mix of traditional and modern holiday-themed songs.  The whole event lasts about 30 minutes, and once the band plays its farewell show, the boxcar door closes, and the train slips off into the night on its way to the next stop. 

Please make sure that you keep a safe distance away from the train so we can safely continue our journey.

Is there handicapped parking and accessibility at the Holiday Train shows?

All of the on-site arrangements, including parking and accessibility for the disabled, are made by the municipality.   Please contact your town office to inquire.​

How come you're not coming to my town?

Every year we receive dozens of requests for Holiday Train stops from communities across our network.  With so many communities in need, it is always a challenge for us to determine the routing and schedule for the trains, and we try to vary the stops from year to year to accommodate as many locations and food banks as possible.

Alternating route overview

Alberta/British Columbia

  • 2014: Calgary – Edmonton – Calgary – Banff - Golden
  • 2015: Calgary - Lethbridge – Sparwood – Nelson-Radium ** new this year: Provost - Wetaskiwin - Calgary

Saskatchewan

  • 2014: Broadview – Indian Head - Regina
  • 2015: Bredenbury – Saskatoon – Regina ** new this year: Saskatoon – Macklin

We also only stop  where Canadian Pacific owns track so if you live in a community serviced by another railway, our train will not be reaching you.

A note about D&H locations

In September, 2015,  CP sold a portion of railroad stretching from Schenectady, N.Y., to Sunbury, Pa. to the Norfolk Southern Railway.  Since CP no longer owns this portion of track, we will not be operating the Holiday Train there.​​

The CP crew has many great memories from our visits to communities along this route, and offer our sincerest thanks to everyone for their enthusiasm for the program and for their generous support of their local foodbanks.  As a gesture of our continued support for their work, CP will make one final donation to the food banks we've supported in past years in Scranton and southern New York. 

What should I bring?

We encourage donations that support healthy food options, and suggest that you check with your local foodbank or food pantry to find out what their wish list includes. Check out our Healthy Donations campaign to learn more about supporting your healthy community.

Are Holiday Train events free?

Yes! We only ask that you bring a food or monetary donation to your local food bank/pantry, which will be on site taking collections.

How do I ride the train?

Sorry! Rides are not open to the public. You will see some people riding the train from stop to stop. These are our employees, their families and some charitable activities. We provide our employees access to these limited amounts of seats as a thank you for the tireless work they do each year moving goods across North America. Our program is focused on the 150 entertainment events we provide at each stop and raising local food bank donations and not the private rider program. We do not sell tickets for rides on the train.

How do you choose the stops?

There are many factors that determine where the trains should stop. If we have track in the community, we mostly base the decision around interest in seeing the train and participation from the community. Each year we try to include as many as we can. If we don't make it one year, we try the next.

Can you tell me when the train will be passing through my town?

We do not accommodate information requests as to when the train will be passing through towns where we do not stop. Your best bet is to look at the schedule of events to estimate when the train will pass your specific location.

Can I volunteer for the train? 

CP staff on board the train perform a number of duties, and are assisted by local staff at our stop locations.  Unfortunately, we do not have space on the train to accommodate additional passengers.

Any activities that occur at the outdoor event are organized in partnership with the municipality and the chosen food bank. We recommend you reach out locally to offer your services to help make your Holiday Train event even better!  Food banks especially always need volunteers.

Why is it called the Holiday Train, not the Christmas Train?

We chose an inclusive name that covers off a season that begins with US thanksgiving and ends close to the Christmas holiday period. It's been our calling card for 17 years and we are proud to stick with it. The Holiday Train is all about raising money, food and awareness for local food banks to help those less fortunate.

Why is the Holiday Train stopping during the day in my location?

We have a lot of ground to cover and would not be able to accommodate our schedule of 150 stops if we only did evening stops for all our events. We do try to shift times from year to year in our schedule.

Are the lights on the whole time?

The Holiday Train is about 1,000 feet in length with 14 brightly decorated rail cars. They are each decorated with hundreds of thousands of technology-leading LED lights and holiday designs.

As the train moves through Detroit and we clear US customs, we turn the exterior lights off.  Otherwise, the Holiday Train lights are always on. 

How does the Holiday Train collect and distribute the money and food?

The food and money donations stay in the community, and are not collected on board the train. We work in conjunction with local food bank and food pantry groups, and they organize the collection of all donations for their region.  Everything that is raised in the community stays in the community for local distribution.

What type of locomotives pull the Holiday Trains?​

Built originally in 1957, two GP20C 2200 series were rebuilt in 2013 to pull CP's two Holiday Trains. Each locomotive has 2000hp, is 56.02 ft in length and weighs 275,000 lbs.

What's the impact been?

Since 1999, the Holiday Train has raised over CAD​$10.6 million and 3.3 million pounds of food for North American food banks. Everything raised in each community stays in that community, and CP additionally makes donations at each stop. 

The Holiday Train shines a bright light on the importance of supporting food banks and how local residents can join the Holiday Train's spirit in feeding our communities across the country.

The program is an important community initiative for CP employees as more than 15,000 of us live and work in more than 1,100 North American communities. Hunger is an issue that can, and does, impact all of our neighbours.

The Holiday Train program has a gained a tremendous following in its 16 years and really become part of the social fabric for many communities during the holidays. In some places the Holiday Train program can raise the majority of money a food bank requires for the year. ​