Riding the Rails with Wade Bush, Rocky Mountaineer Train Manager

23 February 2017
Read Time: 6.3 mins

The Rocky Mountaineer is counted by many as one of the premier travel experiences a person can do. Snaking through the incredible landscapes of Canada, it takes in everything the Rocky Mountains have to offer. Traversing these landscapes is pretty special, but we're getting to the bottom of just what makes Rocky Mountaineer such a standout by speaking with Wade Bush, Train Manager, who leads the onboard team in providing exemplary service while also liaising with rail operation to ensure seamless travel.  

Wade Bush Train Manager Wade Bush plays a large part in ensuring each guests' Rocky Mountaineer experience is seamless

You’ve been with Rocky Mountaineer for 22 years – why have you stayed so long?

While I've spent 22 years with Rocky Mountaineer, it doesn’t feel like that long. The people I work with make this job so rewarding – from the onboard team I work with to the thousands of guests I meet each season, every day is truly special. As a kid, I grew up near the railway that our Rainforest to Gold Rush route travels on, so working on the train, and on that route specifically, is a dream come true for me.

What is your most memorable moment on board?

Wow. This is a tough question to answer. I remember a young black bear standing to smell the fresh pastries in the dining room, placing her paw on the side of the GoldLeaf car while it was stopped near McBride, British Columbia. And, despite how many times I’ve passed by Mount Robson, the tallest peak in the Canadian Rockies, it still impresses me. Ultimately though, I think its connecting with guests from around the world, and being part of their journey, that is truly memorable. 

A black bear Part of the excitement of this train journey is spotting the native wildlife such as black bears and elk

What are your other favourite highlights of a Rocky Mountaineer journey?

A sight I never tire of is the rugged canyons of the mighty Fraser River as it carves its relentless path from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. One of my favourite views is just below Mount Robson where the green-coloured river explodes into white water, and then transforms into darker tannins as the river continues on.

What does a day in the life of Wade Bush look like?

Each morning starts with a safety discussion between our operations, station and train teams. Our management team then welcomes our onboard team and shares relevant information for the day. Prior to departure, we all gather to welcome our guests during the grand All Aboard ceremony. From there, we take our guests on a memorable journey of landscapes, wildlife, exemplary service and gourmet meals.

Passengers on the Rocky Mountaineer Guests are made to feel as if they're part of the Rocky Mountaineer family

In your opinion, why is Western Canada a must-do holiday destination?

Western Canada is a must-do destination for any traveller as you can experience the beauty and hospitality of Canada’s transformation from the sea to the sky. With Rocky Mountaineer, you get panoramic views of nature’s finest landscapes and wildlife from the comfort of luxury. With 2017 being Canada’s 150th anniversary, consider this our invitation to come and celebrate our nation’s birthday with us!

What is the role of a Train Manager on the Rocky Mountaineer?

As Train Manager, I lead our onboard team in providing exemplary service for our guests, while also liaising with rail operations to ensure seamless travel throughout the day. So, my role includes safety, communication and leadership, and is highlighted with sharing the history, scenery and wildlife of the Canadian Rockies with our guests.

Comfortable seating on board Rocky Mountaineer Comfort plays a large part in the overall experience on board the Rocky Mountaineer

What do you like most about your job?

Without a doubt, it is the people. From the onboard team to our broader team in the stations, railyards and back at head office, I enjoy working with a team whose primary focus is creating memorable and world class experiences for our guests.

What is your favourite route? Why?

Each of our four rail routes offers something special: from the Pacific Ocean coastlines of Coastal Passage, to the historic rail route of First Passage to the West, to the glacier-fed lakes and rivers of Journey Through the Clouds. However, the route that is dear to my heart is Rainforest to Gold Rush as it passes through lush rainforests and my hometown, before heading on to historic gold rush towns and the majestic Canadian Rockies.  

The Rocky Mountaineer running along the water's edge A range of incredible routes and stops lets you see just how amazing this landscape really is

What is your favourite stop? Why?

That is an incredibly difficult question to answer as each of our destinations are amazing. As a nature lover, one of my favourite stops is Jasper because you can catch glimpses of elk as you wander through the town. Just remember to admire them from afar and not get too close! 

What is the most amazing wildlife you have seen from the train?

There's an incredible rawness to the wildlife you can see from the train. Black bears foraging for food near the tracks, soaring eagles overhead, mountain goats nimbly scaling near vertical mountainsides – it is all amazing. I will never forget the image of a massive bull moose wading in turquoise-green river waters as we passed by.

A plate of food being served on Rocky Mountaineer Food is inspired by local dishes and ingredients

The dining on board is pretty spectacular – what is your favourite dish?

How do I pick just one favourite?! From savoury breakfasts, to gourmet lunches, to decadent desserts, our onboard menus are mouth-watering to say the least. The slow cooked beef short ribs are incredible and the salmon is cooked to perfection.

You once got your mum to hand-deliver some green tea for a guest – does this sort of thing happen a lot?

We constantly strive to make our guests’ journeys truly memorable. Whether it’s acknowledging a special birthday or anniversary, sharing stories of the passing region and pointing out prime photo opportunities, or, in that case, tracking down a guest’s favourite tea, we want every person onboard to feel like part of our Rocky Mountaineer family.

The Rocky Mountaineer train in front of a lake Onboard service aims to match the amazement inspired by the incredible landscapes of a Rocky Mountaineer journey

What changes have you seen in your two decades with the Rocky Mountaineer?

Our trains and service offerings just keep getting better and better. Each season, our executive chef reimagines our menus to provide new, delicious takes on our regionally-inspired dishes. Our new GoldLeaf domes offer world class comfort, and our newest rail route, the three-day Rainforest to Gold Rush journey, provides guests with another wonderful experience to travel through Western Canada and the Canadian Rockies.

At what points on the route should passengers have their cameras ready?

Our guests generally have their cameras ready at all times because you never know when you’ll catch sight of a bear, moose or mountain goat. Beyond the wildlife, our onboard team is well versed in the passing region, so they give plenty of notice to capture photos of lakes, rivers, mountains, and other notable sights.

A man taking a photo off the Rocky Mountaineer train There are plenty of astounding photo opps along the way, which staff are all to happy to point out

What other tips do you have for passengers?

My number one tip for passengers is prepare to unwind and reconnect with loved ones as you embark on a truly memorable trip through the majestic Canadian Rockies. Also, bring your appetite and don’t forget your camera!

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