Agreement between CP and Amtrak about Detroit River Tunnel

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Burns651

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...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...
Definitely! That was partly just a fun exercise on my part to research what amount of the GTW and Strathroy Sub has been single tracked.

At least in the 50 years since CP discontinued Windsor-Toronto passenger service, the track has still been maintained to the 60 MPH freight/80 MPH passenger standard, as far as I know. As always, the problems would be at the sidings and moving through terminal/congested areas.
 
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So why is it that the Detroit routing is preferred over Port Huron with Connect US ?
@neroden answered a good part of your question, but also at the time of the International there was only the one route (Port Huron) which happened to be served by two of Amtrak's and VIA's lowest priority "stop everywhere" trains - now the Blue Water and VIA's Sarnia service. The International was able to replace both with the added burden of customs. It took more than 12 hours on a good day to get from Toronto to Chicago. Once the connections at Chicago and Toronto were severed due to late arrivals the fate of the train was sealed. A straight line train via Detroit using both VIA and Amtrak's higher speed lines with minimal customs delays could rival driving, in addition to serving major population centers on both sides of the border. Use of the Detroit tunnel opens up that option.
 

west point

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You sure about that?
Yes!!

North America
Because of the lengths of trains and the high power requirements, HEP is supplied, in North America, as three-phase AC at 480-V (standard in the US and for Canada's VIA), 575-V (GO Transit, Toronto), or (rarely) 600-V. Transformers are fitted in each car for reduction to lower voltages.[3]

The wiring of the VIA cars and locos are two circuits run from the right front of the car to the left rear of the car. The other circuit goes from the left front to the right rear of the car. The crossover of each circuit is not connected. The crossover works no matter which way car or loco is pointed. That way 2 locos provide power each to half of the cars.

If a VIA HEP in one loco fails, there is a manual cross tie relay in loco to provide HEP to both circuits. That relay would also be used if only one loco is in the consist.
There is a connection relay in each car that connects to the right front feed. If that circuit fails, there is an automatic transfer relay that drops the right front circuit and connects to the left front circuit. Therefore, you have a backup if the loco transfer relay does not work.

The Amtrak wiring has each circuit go straight thru the car. Am not sure how the 2 circuits are wired but Amtrak loco provide power to both sides so only one Amtrak loco can provide HEP whereas VIA can split to 2 locos allowing much longer passenger consists.

The real problem is the HEP connection cables. For Amtrak both ends have 6 pins receptacles. 3 conductors provide 3 phase power, the 4th ground, the 5th and 6th provide for a continuity test back to the loco for circuit integrity. That is why last passenger car has the cables connected to the 2 outlets on each side of car. Not sure how they exactly work? The Amtrak and VIA cables and connectors are different so you cannot plug one type of cable into the other RR's connector. Safety measure for Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. It would require a special connector cable.

Metra confuses the connections as the phases run backwards to Amtrak. It appears they are only commuter agency is US but not sure? Do not know if METRA's pins are same as Amtrak.
 

Burns651

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I don't know much about the intricacies of HEP, but it was absolutely not a problem with the International. VIA F-40s pulling Superliners, Amtrak F-40s pulling LRC cars. Not an occasional occurrence, but daily, year after year. I have lived in Flint MI and East Lansing MI since before the International started up and can attest to this. Unless someone after 2004 decided to make things complicated or incompatible, running Amtrak and VIA equipment together is still not a problem.
 

zephyr17

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If this train originated in Detroit instead of Chicago-NYP via Canada, would it be feasible - or reasonable - for passengers to clear Canadian customs before even setting foot on the train? This is the practice at NYP for the Adirondack to Montreal, I believe.

Now, that might not address the reverse problem of wily Canadians somehow boarding the train and sneaking into the U.S....
No, that was not the practice on the Adirondack. At NYP, Canada bound passengers had their ID checked and got special baggage tags, that was all. The Adirondack stopped for customs inspection right at the border and customs inspection took place onboard while the train sat there. That was in both directions.

For the record, customs and immigration formalities were handled differently for each of the cross border trains.

Adirondack Onboard inspection at border, as mentioned. All Amtrak operation.

Maple Leaf - ALL passengers deboard with all luggage at Niagara Falls, ON (north/west bound) and Niagara Falls, NY (south/east bound) for customs and Immigration inspection inside station. Wait in station until train itself is cleared. New(ish) Niagara Falls, NY station built with joint use by both CBP and CBSA in mind if Canada exercises her Preclearance rights, but right now , no. Joint Amtrak/VIA operation. Amtrak crew between Niagara Falls, ON and New York, VIA crew between Niagara Falls, ON and Toronto.

Cascades - Northbound customs and Immigration inspection on arrival at Pacific Central Station. Southbound US Immigration inspection prior to boarding at Pacific Central Station in a "Preclearance light". US Customs inspection onboard train at border in Blaine,WA. With recent rail preclearance agreement, that is expected to change at some point with both US immigration and customs being done at Pacific Central Station. All Amtrak operation.

I would expect a Maple Leaf model for a Chicago-Detroit-Toronto service, since it would most likely be making Canadian stops and also be a joint Amtrak/VIA operation. Border formalities would be done using either a joint CBP/CBSA facility in Detroit's MC station with Canada exercising preclearance rights, or CBP in MC and CBSA in Windsor.

I do not think a New York-Chicago route via Southern Ontario is in the cards at all, and in the small chance it were, it would not run sealed. Border formalities would be done in Detroit/Windsor and Niagara Falls.

Finally, neither CBSA nor CBP like onboard inspection and probably would not permit another one. That is one of the reasons the Adirondack is likely ultimately to switch to all border formalities for both sides being done in Montreal, much like Vancouver.
 
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toddinde

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You sure about that?
View attachment 26718
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.
Thank you for correcting this canard. This has appeared again and again as a reason not to do anything. It seems like people can come up with a million reasons not to do anything. The customs issue seems to be another one. Very simple to resolve with a little effort.
 
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Seaboard92

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Historically the Canadian National/Grand Trunk Western passenger trains actually used the northern route between London and Toronto that the Sarnia trains still use.
 

toddinde

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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.
It most certainly could, and there is no magic to trying to use the VIA station. It is, after all, only a building. Many towns have multiple train stations, and while perhaps not entirely ideal, it is the best options. A platform, a parking area, and a small shelter should be sufficient in the beginning.
 

toddinde

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Historically the Canadian National/Grand Trunk Western passenger trains actually used the northern route between London and Toronto that the Sarnia trains still use.
While that is true, there were many through services that used the Detroit tunnel before and even after Amtrak. The population of the Detroit metro area is 4.3 million. The population of Port Huron is 29,000.
 

Burns651

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...there were many through services that used the Detroit tunnel before and even after Amtrak...
It should be clarified for readers not familiar with the history that the only Detroit tunnel passenger service after 1971 was the Det-NYC Niagara Rainbow (no Chicago cars), which only lasted from 10/31/74 to 1/31/79. 43 years and counting of nothing since, depressing.
 

Burns651

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Historically the Canadian National/Grand Trunk Western passenger trains actually used the northern route between London and Toronto that the Sarnia trains still use.
That was true for the Chicago traffic, but there was robust GT/CN passenger service to and from Detroit in both countries. The May 1945 Official Guide shows four daily trains in each direction riding the carferries. They had various combinations of coaches, sleepers and buffet parlors. The trains connected Detroit's Brush Street station and Toronto (Montreal for one train pair), via Windsor's Goyeau St. ferry slips and station, and some of them added a diner in Ontario. A similar level of service existed between Detroit and Chicago via Durand.

There weren't any through Toronto/Montreal-Chicago cars across the river not just because the Port Huron route was faster for those passengers, but because Detroit's then-larger population and relative importance warranted its own service that provided the best arrival/departure times for the city's residents. Most of the trains were labeled as the LaSalle, Maple Leaf, Inter-City Limited, International Limited-- Detroit branches of the same-named trains on the northern route.

In Sept. 1955 CN stopped ferrying passenger cars across the Detroit River and began operating a dedicated bus to connect the stations, which lasted until Amtrak's startup.
 
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Both Canadian and American federal politicians need to codify procedures to get them back on board, as they did for 35 years. They can bring they can bring their portable devices with them, and bring whatever few people to the dinette car or into their palace for longer interviews as they do at Rousses Pt and Lacolle.
I'd venture to say federal politicians on either side couldn't care less whether trains cross the border. They're the ones that have influence over customs officials. New York State, Michigan and Ontario on the other hand are very supportive but the process is out of their hands.

Without that, the Maple Leaf is poorly patronized, a financial money pit for VIA Rail, and failed business model that should be discontinued.
I've ridden the Maple Leaf many times prior to its suspension (for bridge repairs before Covid) and would hardly describe its Canadian-side ridership as poor. Scheduling (time-of-day, Toronto-bound delays and only one frequency) didn't help it, but the route is considered such a prize that Ontario's Metrolinx/GO was prepared to operate 4 daily trains in each direction with much greater capacity than the Maple Leaf and was reportedly in negotiations to acquire the track from CN - pre-pandemic of course.
 
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It most certainly could, and there is no magic to trying to use the VIA station. It is, after all, only a building. Many towns have multiple train stations, and while perhaps not entirely ideal, it is the best options. A platform, a parking area, and a small shelter should be sufficient in the beginning.
As a matter of fact, even though the original Michigan Central Windsor station on that line has burned down, the site where that station stood is completely empty and undeveloped.

It wouldn’t take all that much to turn that site into a second Windsor station with a platform, shelter and a parking lot.
 

jis

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Moderator's Notes: Post pertaining to funding of cross border operations and border inspection in general have been moved to a new thread at:

 
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As a sidebar to this discussion, the historians in our group may find this 1989 film regarding the relationship of Detroit and Windsor interesting. In addition to some gratuitous footage of vintage VIA Rail trains - its sponsor, the documentary touches on the history of both communities (which started as one), why the rails run to Walkerville, the fact that Windsor is actually south of Detroit and various other items of historical and geographical significance. The big guy host/narrator is the late Harvey Kirck - one of the best known national news anchors in Canada.

 
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