CN Rouses Point Track (Adirondack)

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Oreius

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I was reading that one of the barriers to restarting Adirondack service to Montreal is the poor shape of the Rouses Point single track.

1. Condition of the CN Rouses Point Sub from Southwark (near St. Lambert) to Rouses Point. For CN it is effectively a low speed industrial lead. It hasn't been maintained to any revenue passenger service requirements since the COVID service suspension, and CN in Canada is not subject to Amtrak access statutes or regulations. (From the post “Amtrak Resumption to Canada”)

I remember that track being rather rough from Rouses Point until about 20 miles north of the border. Jointed rail and maybe a 30 mph top speed. This was back in 2012. Doesn’t CN run through freights to the border on this line? It makes for a very scenic ride…
 

amtrakpass

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I really hope this done not turn into more of an issue than it should be. If it was in better condition just a couple of years ago, an inspection and a few week tie/rail project should be able to get the track back up to a decent speed. Even if it is not legally required according to Canadian law I hope some kind of mutual agreement can bring the adirondack back as soon as possible
 

Oreius

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I was actually intrigued by that line. The CN guy hopping onboard my coach (the last one) to throw the switch at Rouses Point. Also, the clickety-clack of the jointed rail and going through peoples backyards!! I wanted to actually build a model railroad layout of it—before my back gave out.
 

rspenmoll

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This is a stab in the dark, but considering that CP has committed to support Amtrak as part of its merger with KCS, would it be possible to reroute the Adirondack into Lucien-L'Allier over the Lacolle Subdivision if CN proves recalcitrant on this?
 

zephyr17

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This is a stab in the dark, but considering that CP has committed to support Amtrak as part of its merger with KCS, would it be possible to reroute the Adirondack into Lucien-L'Allier over the Lacolle Subdivision if CN proves recalcitrant on this?
Probably, since opening a Port of Entry for both Canadian and US Preclearance border inspections at Gare Central appears to be a distant dream now. You'd lose the ability to sell tickets, since VIA can typically sell Amtrak tickets on Amtrak's Canadian services (they did at Vancouver and Toronto to my certain knowlege). The Adirondack didn't connect to anything, and Lucien-L'Allier is only a short distance away from Gare Central. It is a bare bones commuter station from what I understand, though.
 

Amtrak25

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25 of the 48 miles of the Rousses Pt sub are down to 10MPH, including the jointed rail portions, and then some. It had been in various places 49 and 30MPH. I figure it would take 3-1/2 hours as opposed to 1 hour-40 minutes that it used to take. If CN proves impossible, then reroute to Lucien L'Allier, or deem the Adirondack dead. It is barebones commuter station on an embankment, platforms lacking canopies, with an EXO ticket office the size of a walk-in closet. So either we have lousy track to a nice station, or nice track to a lousy station - pick you poison.

I have seen the letters Senators Schumer/Gillibrand and Representative Stefanik just sent to Stephen Gardner demanding answers, though from the letters do not seem to fully understand the issues, and do not have the power to push CN around in Canada.

CN runs one freight train a day to Vermont. The switch at Cantic is normally set to Vermont. I don't know if CN runs anything to Rousss Pt to to turn over to the CP.
 

Oreius

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CN runs one freight train a day to Vermont.
25 of the 48 miles of the Rousses Pt sub are down to 10MPH, including the jointed rail portions, and then some. It had been in various places 49 and 30MPH.

I take it there are no through freights on that line. If CN were smart, they’d route their lone Vermont freight over the CP trackage that junctions at Rouses Point.

That 10 mph speed limit; I’m assuming that’s for freights? If so, wouldn’t a passenger train be able to do 15? That’s Class 1 track speed. Even so, that’s really putsy-putsy!!
 
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zephyr17

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I take it there are no through freights on that line. If CN were smart, they’d route their lone Vermont freight over the CP trackage that junctions at Rouses Point.

That 10 mph speed limit; I’m assuming that’s for freights? If so, wouldn’t a passenger train be able to do 15? That’s Class 1 track speed. Even so, that’s really putsy-putsy!!
Um, the reason they don't route their one train to Vermont to Rouses Point is likely because Rouses Point is in New York and not Vermont. CN is smart, or at least not dumb, they route that one cross border interchange train to a friendlier interchange partner than their arch rival CP's former D & H at Rouses Point.

There are no junctions north of the one at Rouses Point that provide easy access to CP, which is the crux of the issue with access to Gare Central, and CN has no incentive to create one to more easily reach the former D & H.
If they want to send something to the CP occasionally at Rouses Point the slow, ill maintained branch that already exists does fine.

Since that track is in Canada, FRA track classifications and rules do not apply. I do not know what the Canadian regs are.

With that said, FRA track classifications state a maximum speed, not a minimum. In the US, even something as simple as not bothering to post a "P" speed board would result in the train being limited to a lower speed.
 
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zephyr17

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I imagine one solution would be for New York State to fund some upgrades to the Rouses Point Sub to bring it back to 30-49 mph standards. It would not be unprecedented, Washington State funded a new siding at Colebrook, BC which was a BNSF demand in order to allow a second Cascades train to Vancouver. Colebrook is where the BNSF line from the US and the busy BCR Port Sub to the Roberts Bank coal terminal come together briefly.
 
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Amtrak25

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First they have to admit that most of the problem is in Canada.

Thus far, Schumer, Gillibrand, Stefanik (who seems to believe CN's rhetoric), and the North Country Chamber have only barked at Stephen Gardner, the latter saying "so excuse me, there is no impediments at the border, if you can restart that one [Maple Leaf], you can restart this one". NYS-DOT has so far been silent.

Unless they get past grand-standing, puffery to impress us, and playing ostrich, nothing will happen.
 

GoAmtrak

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Sorry I'm a little bit confused I'm not sure if the Adirondack went through Lacolle - Napierville pre-2020, or through Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu?

If they went through Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, could it be a possibility to propose Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu a stop along the route so that Canadian authorities could perhaps be more into improving tracks on the Canadian side, along CN? A lot of speculation, I know...
 

enviro5609

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First they have to admit that most of the problem is in Canada.

Thus far, Schumer, Gillibrand, Stefanik (who seems to believe CN's rhetoric), and the North Country Chamber have only barked at Stephen Gardner, the latter saying "so excuse me, there is no impediments at the border, if you can restart that one [Maple Leaf], you can restart this one". NYS-DOT has so far been silent.

Unless they get past grand-standing, puffery to impress us, and playing ostrich, nothing will happen.

I think you may misunderstand how the political process works. The audience is also Gardner and Amtrak. Right now, without political pressure, Amtrak is not under any rush to sort out repairing the track. Someone has to pay for it. Is it going to be CN (likely not), NYS (maybe?) or Amtrak itself? Or some combination thereof? That doesn't get sorted out without a sense of urgency to fix the problem.

Putting pressure on Amtrak is how the gears start moving, inject the sense of urgency. That the politicians don't include all of the facts in their public letters meant for public dissemination doesn't mean nothing is happening. Grand-standing and puffery is exactly what is needed to get an organization like Amtrak to pay attention to what is a really complicated and international problem for a small number of passengers.
 

enviro5609

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Amtrak is hardly likely to pay for repairing tracks in Canada for running a New York State funded train. Won’t happen no matter how much people scream at Gardner.
Of course not. But Amtrak needs to get the conversations going with NYS, Quebec, and CN on funding. Herding those cats takes time, effort, and bandwidth. Institutional inertia being what it is, that's not going to happen unless there is someone pushing the process along.
 

Amtrak25

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I think you may misunderstand how the political process works. The audience is also Gardner and Amtrak. Right now, without political pressure, Amtrak is not under any rush to sort out repairing the track. Someone has to pay for it. Is it going to be CN (likely not), NYS (maybe?) or Amtrak itself? Or some combination thereof? That doesn't get sorted out without a sense of urgency to fix the problem.

Putting pressure on Amtrak is how the gears start moving, inject the sense of urgency. That the politicians don't include all of the facts in their public letters meant for public dissemination doesn't mean nothing is happening. Grand-standing and puffery is exactly what is needed to get an organization like Amtrak to pay attention to what is a really complicated and international problem for a small number of passengers.
Putting pressure ("urgency") on Amtrak won't accomplish a thing- they don't subsidize the train and it is not their track to repair. Amtrak knows perfectly well what the problem is - they are the ones who have been doing crew qualification runs every 6 months or so.

Political pressure needs to go directly from the NYS Congressional delegation to the CN, the Quebec MP's, and Provincial Assembly.
 

enviro5609

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Putting pressure ("urgency") on Amtrak won't accomplish a thing- they don't subsidize the train and it is not their track to repair. Amtrak knows perfectly well what the problem is - they are the ones who have been doing crew qualification runs every 6 months or so.

Political pressure needs to go directly from the NYS Congressional delegation to the CN, the Quebec MP's, and Provincial Assembly.
That's not how politics work, certainly not international relations. The Quebec MP's don't answer to NYS. They care as much as Schumer and Gillibrand would care what the provincial assembly of Quebec has to say. There is no leverage there. Amtrak, however, is very much subject to leverage from Congress. Its really Amtrak's primary customer, in many ways.

Amtrak operates the train. It will need to be involved and coordinating the repairs/funding efforts-- even if its just telling the people with the money (NYS) where and who to talk to at CN and in Canada. Because, ultimately, the track needs to be repaired to a level that allows Amtrak to operate the train. That requires Amtrak's buy-in and final ok. Getting Amtrak's focus requires political will. Your distain for the process doesn't make it meaningless.
 

Amtrak25

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Sorry I'm a little bit confused I'm not sure if the Adirondack went through Lacolle - Napierville pre-2020, or through Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu?

If they went through Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, could it be a possibility to propose Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu a stop along the route so that Canadian authorities could perhaps be more into improving tracks on the Canadian side, along CN? A lot of speculation, I know...

Adirondack since the mid-1980's has taken the CN from Rouses Pt to Central Station via the Rouses Pt Subdivision, which means via St Jean, Brossard and St Lambert.

Should Customs ever get moved to Central Station, St Lambert stop goes away, so forget about stopping at St Jean.

I'd rather reroute it on the ex D&H, ex-Napierville Junction, and CP all the way to Lucien L'Allier Station to get CN out of the picture, crappy commuter depot that it is.
 

Amtrak25

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That's not how politics work, certainly not international relations. The Quebec MP's don't answer to NYS. They care as much as Schumer and Gillibrand would care what the provincial assembly of Quebec has to say. There is no leverage there. Amtrak, however, is very much subject to leverage from Congress. Its really Amtrak's primary customer, in many ways.

If Amtrak is subject to leverage from Congress, then Congress does the international relations. So barking at Gardner accomplishes nothing. It is not even a federally subsidized train.


Amtrak operates the train. It will need to be involved and coordinating the repairs/funding efforts-- even if its just telling the people with the money (NYS) where and who to talk to at CN and in Canada. Because, ultimately, the track needs to be repaired to a level that allows Amtrak to operate the train. That requires Amtrak's buy-in and final ok. Getting Amtrak's focus requires political will. Your distain for the process doesn't make it meaningless.

Amtrak doesn't "buy into" anything - they don't have the authority to spend capital spend money in Canada and NYS doesn't spend money in Canada either.

All they can do is report the facts - if 25 miles of it are the equivalent of FRA Class I trackage, then those 25 miles will take 1 hour and 40 minutes, and the remaining 23 miles likely another 45 minutes. So they can tell NYS and Congress trip time goes up another 45 minutes at least.
 
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enviro5609

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If Amtrak is subject to leverage from Congress, then Congress does the international relations. So barking at Gardner accomplishes nothing. It is not even a federally subsidized train.




Amtrak doesn't "buy into" anything - they don't have the authority to spend capital spend money in Canada and NYS doesn't spend money in Canada either.
I don't think you understand how organizations like Amtrak work, and how large capital funding gets done.

"Buy-in" isn't referring to money. Its referring to the idea of an organization taking ownership of a project and believing in its outcome. Right now, Amtrak is more than happy to let the status quo continue. That reflects a lack of buy-in into the idea of restarting service.
 
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Adirondack since the mid-1980's has taken the CN from Rouses Pt to Central Station via the Rouses Pt Subdivision, which means via St Jean, Brossard and St Lambert.

Should Customs ever get moved to Central Station, St Lambert stop goes away, so forget about stopping at St Jean.

I'd rather reroute it on the ex D&H, ex-Napierville Junction, and CP all the way to Lucien L'Allier Station to get CN out of the picture, crappy commuter depot that it is.
I agree with everything you've said except St Lambert going away. I think that's a flawed assumption that we've all entertained in a rush to have Customs completed in Gare Central. I don't know that there are reliable numbers for Adirondack traffic to/from St Lambert, but when I was last stopped there on a VIA train there were easily a hundred passengers waiting for Amtrak as it approached. I think it's more likely that people from "the 'burbs" found the train a good way to get to New York versus going downtown or even further to the airport.
 

Amtrak25

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I don't think you understand how organizations like Amtrak work, and how large capital funding gets done.

"Buy-in" isn't referring to money. Its referring to the idea of an organization taking ownership of a project and believing in its outcome. Right now, Amtrak is more than happy to let the status quo continue. That reflects a lack of buy-in into the idea of restarting service.

It is a PRIIA-209 service. Therefore, Amtrak does not "own" the project.
 

Amtrak25

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I agree with everything you've said except St Lambert going away. I think that's a flawed assumption that we've all entertained in a rush to have Customs completed in Gare Central. I don't know that there are reliable numbers for Adirondack traffic to/from St Lambert, but when I was last stopped there on a VIA train there were easily a hundred passengers waiting for Amtrak as it approached. I think it's more likely that people from "the 'burbs" found the train a good way to get to New York versus going downtown or even further to the airport.

My experience, which was always the heavy summer travel season, is St Lambert is 0 to 3 passengers per trip, at times, zoomed right by at track speed. I have never seen more than 140 cross the border. I listen to the crew chatter on my scanner.

BTW, I have zero confidence Customs will ever get done in Central Station. The Ottawa federal government is totally disinterested. The completed plans were trashed with the last Quebec Provincial election, which goes to show how much they are interested. They then awarded another consultant contract C$1 million. So now they can draw pictures and play some more. Then they have to fund its construction, and get permission from the station's building owner, which is neither CN nor EXO.
 
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enviro5609

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It is a PRIIA-209 service. Therefore, Amtrak does not "own" the project.
I'm aware of the law and who owns it, financially speaking. You are missing the point, and we are talking past each other. From a project management perspective, Amtrak is the key stakeholder. They need to "buy-in" to the idea of restarting service as a priority for anything to happen. NYS is not going to take the lead in terms of spending money or getting this done. They don't even know the right questions to ask of CN. The legislature needs to be told what to spend and why, with a guarantee of an outcome. That's how legislatures work.

The entity best positioned to take ownership of the project management is Amtrak. And Amtrak will not do that unless they are forced to. The best way to do so is by political pressure from the NYS Congressional delegation.
 

zephyr17

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Amtrak is hardly likely to pay for repairing tracks in Canada for running a New York State funded train. Won’t happen no matter how much people scream at Gardner.
Agree about Amtrak, but New York State, the sponsor and funding source for the service, could.

As I have previously pointed out, there is a precedent. Washington State paid for a new CTC siding at Colebrook, BC, where the busy BCR Port Sub to Roberts Bank and the BNSF come together. This was in response to a BNSF demand for it as a condition of operating a second Vancouver Cascades train. Also, just to state facts, the Province of British Columbia did not contribute financially to that or to the train's operation generally. However, the Province and the City of Vancouver did provide key political support in Ottawa when the CBSA was adamant that they would not provide border inspection services for the second train, though.

New York State DOT clearly should be the lead agency applying pressure for resumption, not Amtrak. They own the service. Washington DOT got the Cascades resumption to Vancouver moved up from December to September after widely publicizing Amtrak's letter and their own furious response. Political pressure was applied, including Senator Cantwell calling Gardner into her office to "discuss" the issue.

If New York State does not take ownership in pushing Adirondack resumption, no other agency will. Certainly not Amtrak.
 
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Amtrak25

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There are all of two NYS-DOT staffers who are assigned to Amtrak. The Legislature seems sound asleep. The Congressional delegation needs to contact them directly, contact Amtrak only for technical assistance.

As it stands now, their approach will only have Gardner blame CN and he'll simply respond he can't do anything since this is a Canadian matter where Amtrak's access rights are far weaker. "Buy-in", "ownership", and "stakeholder" are managerial buzzwords, but those concepts do not exist. Gardner is in no postion to wag his finger at Tracy Robinson and tell her to fix her lousy track. CN's goal in life is to have PSR and an operating ratio down to 1%.
 
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