Canadian rail operator Via Rail has signed with US firm Avalon Rail to rebuild 12 passenger cars on its western transcontinental train, the Canadian.

The $19.5m contract involves reconfiguring eight Chateau sleeping cars and four Park sleeper-dome-lounge cars to enhance their value and improve accessibility for those with special needs.

Work includes changing the trains’ design to six upscale cabins for up to three passengers each, as well as adding features such as fully self-contained sleeping cabins with an en-suite washroom, wood panelling, sofa seating, a wide-screen television and controls to raise or lower the beds.

Work is being funded from the $407m allocated for passenger rail improvements under the Government of Canada’s Economic Action Plan.

The refurbished cars will be delivered in 2011.