Could Boston-Montreal via Springfield be viable?

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Fenway

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At some point, Amtrak will restore service into Canada, and setting up customs for both countries at Central Station in Montreal will finally happen.

I am thinking of a 10 PM departure from both cities daily.

Running time would be painfully slow (9-10 hours) but running overnight would mitigate the pain. A sleeper option could be considered as well. It also would create an early morning train to Boston from Springfield with a late-night return.

I think Massachusetts, Vermont, and Quebec would be willing to subsidize a year-long pilot test.
 
If you timed it right, you could have connections at Springfield to/from New Haven and points south and west, possibly even a through-car operation, which would open it to a much larger pool of potential riders. And of course, it would provide a second schedule choice for stations on the Vermonter route that now have only once-a-day service. I think a sleeper or two would be essential, though.
 
So, the Montrealer was timetabled at about nine hours Springfield-Montreal back in the early 1980s. When it was re-routed following the suspension in the late 80s, it was routed through eastern CT and I can't find a good timetable comparison for Springfield on the altered route from then.

I mention this because if you were to revive that route, a late evening departure/early morning arrival time for Montreal could allow folks to transfer at Springfield outside of the middle of the night. The snarl is that this would almost assuredly have to be a VT-sponsored train, and for it to make sense for them they'd probably want to "bury" the NYP-SPG (or perhaps NHV-southern VT) segment instead. Of course, there's also the direct NYP-SPG Regional that you could pair a BOS-SPG-MTR train with (with the folks from the south transferring). That shows up at about 2230 on weekdays (it's earlier on weekends), so if the Boston train came through a bit after 2300 that might be a "safe" transfer option.

[With a daylight extension to Montreal, you just need to be able to run a state-supported train that isn't handcuffed to the LSL on a reasonably matching timetable.]

This all being said, I don't think through cars are worth the mess here.
 
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So, the Montrealer was timetabled at about nine hours Springfield-Montreal back in the early 1980s. When it was re-routed following the suspension in the late 80s, it was routed through eastern CT and I can't find a good timetable comparison for Springfield on the altered route from then.
Currently, St Albans to Springfield is 5h 20m

Springfield/Boston on the LSL is 2h 30m ( 90m from Springfield to Worcester for 54 miles )

St Albans to Montreal IF you have customs at Montreal Central Station is 2 hours realistic?

Western MA politicians want to see the MBTA Commuter Rail extended to Springfield but the ROW between Worcester and Springfield is severely lacking with 33 miles being single track.


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If you timed it right, you could have connections at Springfield to/from New Haven and points south and west, possibly even a through-car operation, which would open it to a much larger pool of potential riders. And of course, it would provide a second schedule choice for stations on the Vermonter route that now have only once-a-day service. I think a sleeper or two would be essential, though.
Where would the train sets come from?
 
To run Boston to Montreal via the Conn River, one thing they would probably want to do is reactivate the platform for track 1 at Springfield (or better reconnect the existing track 3 so as not to tie up the main) as there is currently no direct track connection to go from 2 or 2A to the Conn River line. The Vermonter currently does this via a backup move down to Sweeney interlocking South of the diamond. But this would probably be one of many changes including whatever CSX would need to get them to go along with adding more Amtrak frequencies Boston to Springfield.
 
Amtrak/MassDOT have a CRISI grant application to do some work on the B&A to allow two round trips on the inland route. It involves lengthening sidings on the segment between Springfield and Worcester, additional work to increase MAS from 60 to 79, and a new siding east of Worcester in Grafton for CSX’s interchange with a short line that’s there (the Grafton and Upton) to get it off the mainline. reportedly there’s also planned work for the platform between tracks 2 and 2A that the lake shore stops at. Absent a track 1 platform they’d probably have to run it push pull.
 
IMO the only way to make these trains to Montreal is to:
1. Montreal customs facility both ways at the station.
2. Improve the 40 / 49 miles running times from the border to the Montreal station of 1:00 - 1:10. by either upgrading CP or CN . CP probably by making connection at the CP overpass of CN. That alone would make BOS <> MTR 7 - 8 hours. Improvements might reduce BOS <> Springfied even moew but would make departure and arrival timesgood as 8 hours overnight would seem to catch ideal sleep timeb.
3. Operate all 3 routes ( Adarondiac, Vermonter * maybe 2 ) , Ethan Allen ) with probably Vermonter overnight to Montreal.
4. Adarondact and / or Ethan Allen make all day connections from east and west at Albany
 
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IMO the only way to make these trains to Montreal is to:
1. Montreal customs facility both ways at the station.
2. Improve the 40 / 49 miles running times from the border to the Montreal station of 1:00 - 1:10. by either upgrading CP or CN . CP probably by making connection at the CP overpass of CN. That alone would make BOS <> MTR 7 - 8 hours. Improvements might reduce BOS <> Springfied even moew but would make departure and arrival timesgood as 8 hours overnight would seem to catch ideal sleep timeb.
3. Operate all 3 routes ( Adarondiac, Vermonter * maybe 2 ) , Ethan Allen ) with probably Vermonter overnight to Montreal.
4. Adarondact and / or Ethan Allen make all day connections from east and west at Albany

Obviously, customs in Montreal is essential.

Once the Mass Turnpike opened in 1957 the NY Central saw no reason to maintain the ROW between Springfield and Worcester.

1675234105986.png
Massachusetts needs to revamp its enitre transportation network starting with seperating 'commuter' rail from the MBTA.

The MBTA should go back to its core focus of providing heavy/light rail, bus and ferry service in Metro Boston. MassDOT oversees all other passenger rail and the other regional transit districts - call it MASSTransit.

It is so frustraiting.
 
IMO the only way to make these trains to Montreal is to:
1. Montreal customs facility both ways at the station.
2. Improve the 40 / 49 miles running times from the border to the Montreal station of 1:00 - 1:10. by either upgrading CP or CN . CP probably by making connection at the CP overpass of CN. That alone would make BOS - MTR 7 - 8 hours. Improvements might reduce BOS - Springfied even moew but would make departure and arrival timesgood as 8 hours overnight would seem to catch ideal sleep timeb.
Which "CP overpass of CN" are you referring to?
3. Operate all 3 routes ( Adarondiac, Vermonter * maybe 2 ) , Ethan Allen ) with probably Vermonter overnight to Montreal.
4. Adarondact and / or Ethan Allen make all day connections from east and west at Albany
Frankly I can see two trains to Montgreal, one funded by NY and one by Vermont. I have difficulty seeing a third train being funded by anyone. Also, ubless someone other than Vermont ponies up for an overnight train I think it is unlikely.
 
Which "CP overpass of CN" are you referring to?

Frankly I can see two trains to Montgreal, one funded by NY and one by Vermont. I have difficulty seeing a third train being funded by anyone. Also, ubless someone other than Vermont ponies up for an overnight train I think it is unlikely.
I know one of the major Vermont advocacy group is pushing to see a return to overnight service on the route - I'm sure with visions of sleeping and dining cars running up to Montreal once again. To me though it sounds like a pipe dream I don't see the state going for it - especially not a train with sleeping cars and dining cars. I could see a second daytime frequency running to Boston before anything overnight.
 
Frankly I can see two trains to Montgreal, one funded by NY and one by Vermont. I have difficulty seeing a third train being funded by anyone. Also, ubless someone other than Vermont ponies up for an overnight train I think it is unlikely.
Depending on crewing situations, timetables, and the like? I could see a situation where Vermont pays for "both Vermonters" to go to Montreal because of crewing efficiencies and the like (i.e. ensuring proper rest periods for the crews running north of...wherever they split the crews) or if the extension was "revenue incremental" (i.e. the added ticket revenue from the extension is more than the added cost of extending). But I suspect they would both be daytime trains.

For what I'm thinking, let's assume the following:
-SAB-MTR: 90 minutes (this was about two hours on the 1994 timetable, but as I understand it some improvements are programmed) less any customs stops
-30 minutes can be reduced between NHV and SAB and the NHV stop can be cut to about 10 minutes with dual-modes.
-Times on the current Vermonter will not be altered south of NYP (mainly chosen so I can ignore WAS-NYP for a moment).

On the current (above) Vermonter timetable this would yield:

Code:
         |
NYP 1133 | 1825
NHV 1311 | 1639
NHV 1320 | 1625
SAB 2010 | 0955
MTR 2210 | 0755

One thing to note here is that I'm not certain that, report times being what they are, the crew would have a legally sufficient rest period in the event of even a mild delay (since the report time in Montreal would be somewhat before departure). Now, here's a second timetable with two trains per day.

Code:
         |      ||      |
NYP 1133 | 0805 || 2100 | 1755
NHV 1311 | 0945 || 1920 | 1609
NHV 1320 | 0955 || 1910 | 1555
SAB 2010 | 1645 || 1220 | 0925
MTR 2210 | 1845 || 1020 | 0725


The latter timetable simply extends the first morning Regional from WAS (departure time 0430, arrival time NYP 0746) up to Montreal. I'd note that if connectivity at NYP isn't a major concern, you could slide that another hour (or so) earlier. I've roughly connected the new southbound train to the old schedule for 187 (a NYP-WAS Regional that left at 2110) from 2016. I'd note, again, that if connectivity isn't an issue this train could be pushed later, as below (linking it in with the schedule for 179/479):

Code:
         |      ||      |
NYP 1133 | 0805 || 2250 | 1825
NHV 1311 | 0945 || 2110 | 1639
NHV 1320 | 0955 || 2100 | 1625
SAB 2010 | 1645 || 1410 | 0955
MTR 2210 | 1845 || 1210 | 0755

Note that on weekends, 179 was 169, and 169 ran through to WAS, so this pairing wouldn't be half-bad. I've reverted the existing train to its (approximate) present timetable. Both trains run through; they can pair with or run through as trains to Washington, DC (I don't think that southbound OTP for a train arriving after midnight is a big deal). Four hours of spacing is pretty decent - I could push them a bit further apart if sacrificing either serving WAS or MTR (I'm not sure which would serve Vermont better, TBH). Of course, I'm not sure that arriving into NYP after 2300 is particularly attractive (and though an earlier morning departure might be more easily sold, I'm not sure I'd want to lose inbound traffic from the New York area to earlier required departures).

Do note that the existing Vermonter crew (arr MTR 2210) would likely turn as the crew for the "new" train (dep MTR 1210, so a 14-hour layover) while the new train's crew (arr MTR 1845) would likely turn as the Vermonter's crew (dep MTR 0755, so about a 13-hour layover), both being rather friendlier to rest requirements.
 
Of course if Montreal is your destination and you want another state to help in the financial department. You could run Boston to Albany to Montreal. Or stick with Boston to Springfield to Montreal. Depending on which state was willing to get involved. NY has a bit of windfall in tax and aid this year. About 8 billion.
 
Of course if Montreal is your destination and you want another state to help in the financial department. You could run Boston to Albany to Montreal. Or stick with Boston to Springfield to Montreal. Depending on which state was willing to get involved. NY has a bit of windfall in tax and aid this year. About 8 billion.
I'm not opposed to the idea of a Boston-Montreal service (by either route), but I think (as indicated above) it may make more sense in the scheme of things to have Massachusetts run an east-west service which runs a few times a day (say, 3x/day to Albany with some more frequencies between Boston and Springfield) and improve the Springfield station so it's a more enticing option for a connection.


Honestly, I think - and I've expressed this before - that the Adirondack route probably makes more sense for an overnight service. The practical problem is getting NY buy-in for that. Having said that, if you can ditch the border crossing I've also felt that a two-train service on the Adirondack run would make sense: An earlier train for connecting at the destination and a later train for connecting at the origin. IIRC cutting the border stop drops about 60-90 minutes from the runtime (the MTR-RSP runtime is set at about 1:35 southbound, but it's 3:06 northbound (and the difference is mostly at the Lacolle stop, not in the last leg to Montreal; the stop at RSP southbound has an hour built in...but if the train is full, that can end up being insufficient).

Let's say, for the sake of discussion, that handling customs at Montreal cuts an hour. This feels reasonable (though I could see a case for 90 minutes). This gets you to 9.5 hours southbound and 10 hours northbound - pick your preferred runtime, but I'll go with 10 hours (it's neater, especially on a 24-hour clock ;-)) and assume that we can blame single-track issues on the old D&H for this. An 0815 departure from NYP now arrives at MTR at 1815...but on a two-train operation we might instead have one train depart at 0715 (arriving 1715) and another at 1215 (arriving 2215). The same could be done, roughly, in reverse (southbound). And if you can get to the 9.5 hour runtime northbound (which is in line with the present timetable), I would suggest that the later train could be pushed back far enough to allow a connection with the northbound Meteor (the connection with the southbound Meteor, or anything else going past WAS, is probably shot - but I put no small part of the blame for that on Amtrak/Virginia not running anything getting into Richmond later than about 2130...which is really a bit too early to be "closing up shop" for the night; if they were willing to run a train so it got into RVR around 2300, the connection would be doable, and this was in line with the old Meteor timetables from the 1990s).

Now, as far as overnight stuff goes if you take the last Empire Service of the evening and run it through, with customs handled in Montreal, the arrival time in Montreal probably looks like it'd be sometime before 0900 (if you go by the weekday time for that train, leaving NYP at 2245 [so the arrival would be either 0845 or 0815]; the weekend departure at 2335 would land a bit later [0935 or 0905]).
 
I'm not opposed to the idea of a Boston-Montreal service (by either route), but I think (as indicated above) it may make more sense in the scheme of things to have Massachusetts run an east-west service which runs a few times a day (say, 3x/day to Albany with some more frequencies between Boston and Springfield) and improve the Springfield station so it's a more enticing option for a connection.
Would support this big time. The problem is Massachusetts does not even know Albany exist. Ever study for western Massachusetts seem to ends at Pittsfield. Not sure why, never get a clear answer when talking to folks at ESPA, or the few Massachusetts folks in attendance. Next meeting is March which I am planning to attend. So cliff notes and questions will be done.
 
Would support this big time. The problem is Massachusetts does not even know Albany exist. Ever study for western Massachusetts seem to ends at Pittsfield. Not sure why, never get a clear answer when talking to folks at ESPA, or the few Massachusetts folks in attendance. Next meeting is March which I am planning to attend. So cliff notes and questions will be done.
It's a pity that, say, the DOT or somebody else can't model "If you terminate at Pittsfield, here's the ridership/revenue estimate; if you extend to Albany, here's what you get from the connections and here's the added cost". I mention this because plugging that hole (it's an hour and about 40 miles, so no idea what capex CSX would demand) might actually be net profitable (that is, no increase to the added subsidy needs from the state), not unlike how I suspect that the Montreal extension might be similarly beneficial to Vermont's bottom line.
 
It's a pity that, say, the DOT or somebody else can't model "If you terminate at Pittsfield, here's the ridership/revenue estimate; if you extend to Albany, here's what you get from the connections and here's the added cost". I mention this because plugging that hole (it's an hour and about 40 miles, so no idea what capex CSX would demand) might actually be net profitable (that is, no increase to the added subsidy needs from the state), not unlike how I suspect that the Montreal extension might be similarly beneficial to Vermont's bottom line.
Some state bureaucracies will fight until death obviously on the wrong side of reason. For example it took many years to beat the PennDOT and NJDOT and respective legislators into submission so NJT could build their storage yard for Trenton in Morrisville in Pennsylvania. PennDOT never relented on their position that they would not allow the construction of a station at Morrisville allowing hundreds of Pennsylvania commuters who have to drive across the Delaware to park in Trenton to get on their train. How could they possibly allow their residents to save 45 minutes each way on their daily commute while causing such giant harm to their fiefdom!

Anyway, back to Montreal, I guess I never got the answer on what CP over CN crossing was mentioned before.

One of the issues that still need to be resolved about extension of any train from St. Albans VT to Montreal is that of T&E staffing. Unlike for the Adirondack which had D&H and hence Amtrak T&E staff grandfathered all the way to Montreal, the Montrealer alwyas ran with CN T&E from St. Albans to Montreal, and hence CN and its Unions expect CN crew to run any such train from St. Albans to Montreal, which will cost more than a pretty penny, and twice as much if two are run on that route. It will be one of the most spectacularly inefficient and expensive crew districts.
 
Some state bureaucracies will fight until death obviously on the wrong side of reason. For example it took many years to beat the PennDOT and NJDOT and respective legislators into submission so NJT could build their storage yard for Trenton in Morrisville in Pennsylvania. PennDOT never relented on their position that they would not allow the construction of a station at Morrisville allowing hundreds of Pennsylvania commuters who have to drive across the Delaware to park in Trenton to get on their train. How could they possibly allow their residents to save 45 minutes each way on their daily commute while causing such giant harm to their fiefdom!

Anyway, back to Montreal, I guess I never got the answer on what CP over CN crossing was mentioned before.

One of the issues that still need to be resolved about extension of any train from St. Albans VT to Montreal is that of T&E staffing. Unlike for the Adirondack which had D&H and hence Amtrak T&E staff grandfathered all the way to Montreal, the Montrealer alwyas ran with CN T&E from St. Albans to Montreal, and hence CN and its Unions expect CN crew to run any such train from St. Albans to Montreal, which will cost more than a pretty penny, and twice as much if two are run on that route. It will be one of the most spectacularly inefficient and expensive crew districts.
Some of the state border stuff is utterly inane. Down in VA, there's been a whole stupid mess over the Long Bridge project having to rope in DDOT because the project crosses the boundary and there's some stuff that VA apparently can't pay for because it's "not in the state" (when it would probably have been more efficient for VA to say "We're paying for this party"). And of course, there's also been the whole mess of acquiring the S-Line from Petersburg to Raleigh needing to involve VA and NC doing separate transactions.

[Admittedly, with that yard the stupid takes on a whole new dimension...though to be completely honest, I wonder about the logistics and politics of just having NJ pay Amtrak to drop a station in that gets one Regional per day and then fighting PA in court about preventing them from using it. I'd actually be curious as to whether PA could even win on rational basis there, especially if SEPTA wasn't disbarred from making the stop as well.]

Edit to add: Honestly, if PA wants to play those games then it's a pity that Amtrak tends to be (by reputation) a lousy vendor, because at that point I'd wonder about NJ just arranging to have Amtrak be the operator. "Golly gee, that's not an NJT train, it's an Amtrak train operating on the NEC..."

===== ===== ===== ===== =====

I have no idea about the CP/CN crossing bit. That wasn't my comment.

As to the crew district stuff...I'm very curious there, too, since wouldn't Amtrak's D&H stuff have gone away when the train moved from Windsor to Gare Central? Also, wouldn't they (in theory) be able to use VIA staff instead of CN if there's a problem with running Amtrak staff into Montreal? I can't speak to the relative pay situation with that, but IIRC VIA has explicit operating rights on both CN and CP (there are some hiccups on other railroads sort-of like how Amtrak couldn't slam their way into railroads that didn't join, such as FEC or the Rock Island), and it's particularly the case on CN, since that's from whence VIA sprang.
 
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I think Vermont could be sold on a rail link to Boston.

I think Massachusetts should explore having Amtrak running service between Boston and Albany to supplement the LSL.

What defies logic is Mass politicians are now extending the MBTA commuter rail to New Bedford and Fall River but running commuter rail to Cape Cod is not even considered where everything is in place as the CapeFlyer has proven.

https://capeflyer.com/reservations-tickets/capeflyer-trainpricing-routes/
Passenger rail in New England is compromised as New Hampshire has no interest in even commuter rail to Boston.
 
I think Vermont could be sold on a rail link to Boston.

I think Massachusetts should explore having Amtrak running service between Boston and Albany to supplement the LSL.

What defies logic is Mass politicians are now extending the MBTA commuter rail to New Bedford and Fall River but running commuter rail to Cape Cod is not even considered where everything is in place as the CapeFlyer has proven.

https://capeflyer.com/reservations-tickets/capeflyer-trainpricing-routes/
Passenger rail in New England is compromised as New Hampshire has no interest in even commuter rail to Boston.
"Full blown" commuter rail would probably be a bit much, but I'd think that 1-3x daily round-trips might be quite successful. [It's just a shame that most of the lines past Hyannis are gone. The Chatham Branch is probably a lost cause - not least because if you look at a satellite picture, the old ROW is now crossed by the runway of the airport out there - but the other branch seems to have the ROW more-or-less intact as a trail.]
 
Couple thoughts,

First there has been talk off and on of reestablishing a new iteration of the Montrealer by extending the Vermonter back north. This line seems line it’s easier to due as Amtrak is already buying Siemens AIRO sets of Charger locomotives and Venture coaches for the Vermonter. As it stands that is one departure north SPG ~1530 and one south BTA ~1300
A Boston-Springfield line, regular, reliable & commutable by either MBTA or Amtrak akin to the Hartford line would make connecting fairly straightforward.

But assuming a dedicated Boston to Montreal via the Connecticut river line departure at 2200 from south station puts her in NHT about midnight to 0200 The 2330 Valley Flyer drops at NHT at 0012 if on schedule.
I am pretty sure CSX runs an LNG train about 0130 at least it always seems to when I take a walk during a bout of insomnia. The line runs Parallel to King street and about half of it in that section merge into a single line that carries behind industrial drive across Damon Road at street level. So timing is a question I think.
 
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