Agreement between CP and Amtrak about Detroit River Tunnel

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There is a real problem with VIA and Amtrak equipment. They do not do nice with HEP as Canada uses a slightly higher voltage and the wiring of HEP is different on both locos and passenger cars.
You sure about that?
img779.jpg
I think you're remembering that Amtrak had to do some rewiring on locomotives they acquired from GO Transit - not VIA. Amtrak and VIA equipment have operated together on many occasions. From an occasional VIA P42 subbing for an Amtrak unit on the Maple Leaf pre-pandemic to VIA loaning coaches to Amtrak on several occasions for holiday loads and even post Hurricane Sandy. The shot above is the International and I have a pic somewhere of a really mixed consist of Amtrak and VIA equipment at CUS.
 
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My uninformed guess is that either a Detroit to Toronto train (with a Canadian customs and immigration pre-check at Detroit terminal) or a Windsor to Chicago train (with US pre-check at Windsor) would be plausible. A through Chicago to Toronto train would be too hard without detraining everyone at the border a-la Niagara :(
As I mentioned earlier, there is likely no market for a Windsor to Chicago train. Windsor is not a big place that attracts a lot of visitors and Windsor residents have other options to get to the US. There is also no existing Windsor station on the CP line and a circuitous path to get from it to the present VIA station on the CN line. Continuing the train sealed in Canada to the first major station (e.g. London, ON) for formalities and cross-platform transfers to VIA or GO Transit would make more sense and save the cost of a new (and lightly-used) station that would connect to nothing in the short term. Going all the way to Toronto however, does make the most financial sense.
 
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Getting between Eastern Michigan and Southwestern Ontario by rail - a brief summary:

There used to be 4 (or more accurately 3 1/2) routes. Starting from the north is the CN main line from London, ON, via Sarnia, ON, and Port Huron, MI. It is CN's primary route for freight and is mostly double-tracked except for the St. Clair tunnel, which can accommodate double-stacks and Superliners. It was the route of the Amtrak International.

Next is CN's route to Windsor, or more specifically Walkerville, ON, where the Windsor station is located. It used to run further south along the Detroit River to ferry docks that continued the rail service to Detroit proper. This route sees much less freight traffic since the demise of the auto industry in SW Ontario, is mostly single-track after splitting with the route above and is used by VIA services between London and Windsor. The area between it and the tunnel under discussion here is densely occupied and getting to the tunnel would require a back-up move and an interesting routing that would add significantly to running times.

CP's main freight line is next, connecting to the tunnel they eventually acquired from Michigan Central/Canada Southern. This is the topic of this thread, since there is currently no passenger service on the route. What is now the CP tunnel, emerges in Michigan adjacent to Michigan Central (Ford) station downtown. The station on the Canadian side was destroyed by fire. Here is the tunnel entrance (from Wikipedia):
Detroit_River_Train_Tunnel.jpg
Finally was the former New York/Michigan Central route across the top of Lake Erie. This was the route used by NY Central and Amtrak for trains to Detroit from upstate NY and evolved into a "co-operative" venture between several railroads, known as the Canada Southern or CASO/CanSo - depending on which history you read. It owned the tunnel above. The track was abandoned in sections, with parts operated by short lines, some track pulled up and the rest falling into disrepair.
 

fdaley

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Getting between Eastern Michigan and Southwestern Ontario by rail - a brief summary:

There used to be 4 (or more accurately 3 1/2) routes. Starting from the north is the CN main line from London, ON, via Sarnia, ON, and Port Huron, MI. It is CN's primary route for freight and is mostly double-tracked except for the St. Clair tunnel, which can accommodate double-stacks and Superliners. It was the route of the Amtrak International.

Next is CN's route to Windsor, or more specifically Walkerville, ON, where the Windsor station is located. It used to run further south along the Detroit River to ferry docks that continued the rail service to Detroit proper. This route sees much less freight traffic since the demise of the auto industry in SW Ontario, is mostly single-track after splitting with the route above and is used by VIA services between London and Windsor. The area between it and the tunnel under discussion here is densely occupied and getting to the tunnel would require a back-up move and an interesting routing that would add significantly to running times.

CP's main freight line is next, connecting to the tunnel they eventually acquired from Michigan Central/Canada Southern. This is the topic of this thread, since there is currently no passenger service on the route. What is now the CP tunnel, emerges in Michigan adjacent to Michigan Central (Ford) station downtown. The station on the Canadian side was destroyed by fire. Here is the tunnel entrance (from Wikipedia):
View attachment 26719
Finally was the former New York/Michigan Central route across the top of Lake Erie. This was the route used by NY Central and Amtrak for trains to Detroit from upstate NY and evolved into a "co-operative" venture between several railroads, known as the Canada Southern or CASO/CanSo - depending on which history you read. It owned the tunnel above. The track was abandoned in sections, with parts operated by short lines, some track pulled up and the rest falling into disrepair.
If you go through the Detroit-Windsor tunnel eastbound on the CP, how soon can you switch onto the CN line that VIA uses from Walkerville to London and Toronto?
 
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If you go through the Detroit-Windsor tunnel eastbound on the CP, how soon can you switch onto the CN line that VIA uses from Walkerville to London and Toronto?
There are a few options. The closest is a yard track that runs through the Ford engine plant. It looked a little rough in aerial photographs a few years ago, but nothing money couldn't fix. Several miles east of Windsor the two lines cross at grade with no switches, then there's London - approx. 200km (125 miles) from the tunnel. You would miss the Windsor VIA station with all of these.
 
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@fdaley raises an interesting situation. If either Amtrak or VIA wanted to serve both Detroit MC station and the existing VIA station without building a new station, the ideal solution would be a push-pull trainset (such as Siemens' latest) that ran to VIA's present station on CN, reversed direction through the Windsor Ford plant yard onto CP, then through the tunnel to Detroit and vice-versa. While not cheap or fast, this would be the least expensive route.
 

fdaley

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There are a few options. The closest is a yard track that runs through the Ford engine plant. It looked a little rough in aerial photographs a few years ago, but nothing money couldn't fix. Several miles east of Windsor the two lines cross at grade with no switches, then there's London - approx. 200km (125 miles) from the tunnel. You would miss the Windsor VIA station with all of these.
So a Chicago-Detroit-Toronto train could perhaps switch onto the CN/VIA route in time for Chatham and certainly in time to stop at the existing station in London. Would it be essential to have a stop somewhere in Windsor? And if so, could a platform and sign post be set up somewhere along the CP route for this one set of trains?

Putting aside for the moment the issue of recalcitrant customs agencies, which I realize is a big one, it seems the most useful thing for travelers would be to connect Toronto, Detroit and Chicago on a single through train without transfers. And you'd also pick up London, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo and a bunch of other decent-sized cities en route, even if you didn't directly serve Windsor well or at all.
 

Amtrak25

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There are a few options. The closest is a yard track that runs through the Ford engine plant. It looked a little rough in aerial photographs a few years ago, but nothing money couldn't fix. Several miles east of Windsor the two lines cross at grade with no switches, then there's London - approx. 200km (125 miles) from the tunnel. You would miss the Windsor VIA station with all of these.
I happened to get a MARP Fall 2021 newsletter mailed to me.

If they use the CP tunnel, for "route 1B", they could head southeast, then northeast on Essex Terminal to the CN about a mile east of Walkerville station (sounds like the Buffalo LS&MS/Exchange Street situation). For "route 1A" they could also stay on CP for 44 miles to a new connection with CN 8 miles west of Chatham.

Personally, I think the best routing is defunct International's, but routed via Bayview to Toronto, not the slow line through Stratford. But Customs in either direction would have to be stared down, have them blink, and not have the nonsense that is now at both Niagara Falls.
 
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I happened to get a MARP Fall 2021 newsletter mailed to me.

If they use the CP tunnel, for "route 1B", they could head southeast, then northeast on Essex Terminal to the CN about a mile east of Walkerville station (sounds like the Buffalo LS&MS/Exchange Street situation). For "route 1A" they could also stay on CP for 44 miles to a new connection with CN 8 miles west of Chatham.
Correct - exactly the two options I was referring to. 1B requires some track upgrades and 1A requires interchange switches.
Personally, I think the best routing is defunct International's, but routed via Bayview to Toronto, not the slow line through Stratford. But Customs in either direction would have to be stared down, have them blink, and not have the nonsense that is now at both Niagara Falls.
Also correct. It wasn't just Customs delays that killed the International, but also VIA's choice to use it as the "milk run" on the northern route between London and Toronto. That route is now significant for GO Transit, with more developments to come. In VIA's defense, at the time it allowed them an additional frequency on what is traditionally the Sarnia route.
 

Amtrak25

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I think one of the VIA cuts in the 1980's killed the London locals via Stratford, bumping the Sarnia trains there, so the International suffered, with a one hour extension in running time, arriving Toronto at 1130pm and departing around 630am. Those VIA Rail frequencies and train numbers still exist, though timed a few hours different, but have been truncated back from Sarnia, forgot where. So their so-called corridor to Sarnia is down to one frequency.

With this routing, nobody has to build anything. It is just Customs to confront. It would be a second frequency on the Port Huron route, a good synergy to build domestic US ridership as well.

What was good about the International was a 930am departure from Chicago, arrival back around 6pm, filling a long gap between Pontiac trains. It connected quite well with both Indian Trail's bus routes to Mackinaw and St Ignace at Kalamazoo. The nearest Pontiac schedule arrives Chicago at around 11pm. Who wants to arrive Chicago then ? It would be also good way for Canadians to get from Toronto to Sault Ste Marie, ONT, with their Soo "Bridge Bus", and not use the ON overnight bus from Toronto, which has since replaced Greyhound Canada, and runs on out to Winnipeg.
 
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There are technically two sets of Essex Terminal tracks that could be used, and ironically both were constructed to serve Ford engine plants. One exits from the CN line near "Windsor Transload" in the upper right of the map, the other just left of the Windsor Engine Plant near the center. They both join CP at the bottom. I have a recollection that the easternmost route traversed too many active yards to be practical. Use of the western one would require a left turnout to continue service to VIA Windsor - just behind the Hotels icon on the map.
Untitled-1.jpg
 
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Does anyone know what, if any, Amtrak's actual plans are other than simply gaining access rights for something to be determined in the future.

I personally would be happy with a cross-platform transfer in Detroit (or within the station anyway) to get to Toronto, which is pushing it for driving distance and is insanely expensive to fly to from Chicago.
 

Burns651

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...CN main line...mostly double-tracked except for the St. Clair tunnel...
tunnel they eventually acquired from Michigan Central/Canada Southern...evolved into a "co-operative" venture between several railroads, known as the Canada Southern or CASO/CanSo...The track was abandoned in sections, with parts operated by short lines, some track pulled up and the rest falling into disrepair.
CN has a single main track for 106 miles (two thirds) of the Battle Creek-Port Huron run, and about 37 miles of the Sarnia-London route.

CP and CN jointly purchased the tunnel and the rest of the Canada Southern from Conrail in 1985. CP now owns the tunnel 100%. Through freights the length of the line from Windsor to Niagara Falls ended when CSX gave up its trackage rights in 1996.

The CASO is ripped up for 189 miles from the south side of Windsor to 16 mi. west of Welland, except for a quarter mile stub in St. Thomas.

The elephant in the room that will have to be dealt with is CN. It might be easier to use CP all the way from Windsor or Chatham to Toronto, than to get CN to agree to anything!
 
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This map is from... OpenRailwayMap ...is centered at about the same place as the one in Post #73 and shows the tracks:
View attachment 26728
The two blue circles may be the areas mentioned in that post.
Thank you very much for posting and clarifying. I used a hastily created Google map as opposed to the detailed one I have to avoid copyright issues.
 
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CN has a single main track for 106 miles (two thirds) of the Battle Creek-Port Huron run, and about 37 miles of the Sarnia-London route.

CP and CN jointly purchased the tunnel and the rest of the Canada Southern from Conrail in 1985. CP now owns the tunnel 100%. Through freights the length of the line from Windsor to Niagara Falls ended when CSX gave up its trackage rights in 1996.

The CASO is ripped up for 189 miles from the south side of Windsor to 16 mi. west of Welland, except for a quarter mile stub in St. Thomas.

The elephant in the room that will have to be dealt with is CN. It might be easier to use CP all the way from Windsor or Chatham to Toronto, than to get CN to agree to anything!
Thanks for the added detail. To your last point I concur, however if you apply your same detailed analysis to the CP line - particularly between Toronto and London via Cambridge, it does not shout speed and efficiency either. GO serves the route as far as Milton, ON, with plans to extend to Cambridge, and had planned on using the route to serve London prior to the somewhat abrupt change to the CN Kitchener line. The reason for the change was "complicated".
 

Barb Stout

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It wasn't just Customs delays that killed the International, but also VIA's choice to use it as the "milk run" on the northern route between London and Toronto. That route is now significant for GO Transit, with more developments to come. In VIA's defense, at the time it allowed them an additional frequency on what is traditionally the Sarnia route.
What do you mean here by "milk run"?
 

neroden

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I sometimes wonder about the objective need for current restrictive border controls at our land borders.
Oh, it's complete security theater. It has no actual function whatsoever. Of the many types of pointless garbage security theater from the US government, this is relatively low on sanity advocates' hit list, however.
 
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