Is the Montrealer coming back or just the Vermonter?

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Just-Thinking-51

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No to both.

Montreal is now in final design planning for the new custom pre-clearance. With a schedule build date of 2021.

No planned overnight service by anyone, other than the railfan community.

With a small chance of the Vermonter returning to Montreal some day.
 

Mailliw

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If Canada and/or Quebec kicked in some subsidies it would increase the odds of a Montrealer revival. An overnight train to Montreal grom NYC would make it a much more convenient tourist destination for Northeasterners.
 

jiml

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Not going to happen anytime soon. Don't know how things are in your part of the world, but governments here are all broke.
 

railiner

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I can't see Canada ever subsidizing Amtrak unless Amtrak offers service between two or more Canadian points, which they no longer do, not since the old Niagara Rainbow ceased operating....they don't even help VIA Rail that much....
 

jiml

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When things return to "normal" I suspect the only cross-border services will be the Cascades in the short term. If the northwest "bubble" of Washington, Oregon and British Columbia develops as expected the Cascades will be the first, possibly joined by the Adirondack in November or December unless there is a second wave. The Maple Leaf may be a lost cause. When regional transit (GO) ramps back up in the fall they will have 4 daily trains to Niagara Falls, ON - 3 of which could connect to Empire Services.

As @railiner has pointed out, the Feds aren't exactly "Pro-VIA" outside corridor services at the best of times. This is not the best of times, so they'll be looking for money somewhere and passenger trains are an easy target. As bad as the impending cuts to Amtrak are, expect them to be proportional here and that's going to be a lot more visible on a system that was much smaller to start with.
 

Bob Dylan

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When things return to "normal" I suspect the only cross-border services will be the Cascades in the short term. If the northwest "bubble" of Washington, Oregon and British Columbia develops as expected the Cascades will be the first, possibly joined by the Adirondack in November or December unless there is a second wave. The Maple Leaf may be a lost cause. When regional transit (GO) ramps back up in the fall they will have 4 daily trains to Niagara Falls, ON - 3 of which could connect to Empire Services.

As @railiner has pointed out, the Feds aren't exactly "Pro-VIA" outside corridor services at the best of times. This is not the best of times, so they'll be looking for money somewhere and passenger trains are an easy target. As bad as the impending cuts to Amtrak are, expect them to be proportional here and that's going to be a lot more visible on a system that was much smaller to start with.
Sorry to hear that! I've probably ridden the Maple Leaf 200 times between various NY Cities and Toronto( Oakville).Really liked the Biz Class 2x1 Seating in the Cafe Car.
 

jiml

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Sorry to hear that! I've probably ridden the Maple Leaf 200 times between various NY Cities and Toronto( Oakville).Really liked the Biz Class 2x1 Seating in the Cafe Car.
Only my opinion, reinforced by a call to VIA Rail for a potential fall trip. They told me to check out GO Transit since there were "no plans" to resume VIA service to Niagara Falls. To be very specific, we did not discuss Amtrak or the Maple Leaf by name.
 

Bob Dylan

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Only my opinion, reinforced by a call to VIA Rail for a potential fall trip. They told me to check out GO Transit since there were "no plans" to resume VIA service to Niagara Falls. To be very specific, we did not discuss Amtrak or the Maple Leaf by name.
Thanks, as you know the Maple Leaf I'd a Hybrid Train, Amtrak Equipment and Crewed by Amtrak staff NYP- Niagara Fslls,ON.

Then a VIA Train with VIA Crew and Cafe items NIagara Falls to Toronto.

Guess well see next year, hopefully itll return along with the other Daily LD Trains!!!
 

NS VIA Fan

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I remember reading that provisions made for a combined customs facility when Amtrak's new Niagara Falls station was built. The new Border agreement (the same one that will permit the new pre-clearance facility in Montreal) would allow Canadian CBSA agents to work in the US at the combined facility.

Passengers should be getting off the trains at Niagara Falls, NY to clear either US CBP or Canadian CBSA inspections. But once all-day GO service begins.....terminate the Maple Leaf just like any other Empire Service train on the US side and extend GO across the border to interface with Amtrak. With some tweaking of schedules there probably could be a couple of services offered each way per day with a change of trains in Niagara Falls NY.

I realize the platforms at NF NY are high level and GO cars are low.....but certainly not an insurmountable issue.

VIA should not be in the Niagara Falls market once all-day GO service begins. At 89 miles it's already commuter territory!
 

jiml

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I definitely get the feeling that if the Maple Leaf were to resume it would look a lot more like the Adirondack - a solely Amtrak train that runs non-stop on the Canadian side to its final destination. However, with Amtrak already proposing extensive cuts to the rest of their system, I don't think it's a high priority for them.
 

Mailliw

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The isn't a need for the Maple Leaf if travelers can take a train from NYC to Niagara Falls and transfer to GO to Toronto (or vice-versa). Ideally Empire and GO would terminate at the same station, but it's not absolutely essential.
 

jiml

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Right now in the Covid world the GO trips are all buses, but before the shutdown they had 2x-3x trains daily. The morning NF-bound trip was really close to the Maple Leaf, so the writing was on the wall. What was lacking was a Toronto-bound in the evening, but apparently that was in the works. It's definitely flagged as a growth route - especially the intermediate stops which are becoming part of Toronto's never-ending urban sprawl.
 

jis

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I am sure that the COVID thing has made everything quite unpredictable regarding US Canada service, at least until the dust settles a bit on COVID in a year or two.

Indeed it has thrown in quite a bit of uncertainty about manyAmtrak routes, not just the ones to Canada.
 
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Bob Dylan

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Right now in the Covid world the GO trips are all buses, but before the shutdown they had 2x-3x trains daily. The morning NF-bound trip was really close to the Maple Leaf, so the writing was on the wall. What was lacking was a Toronto-bound in the evening, but apparently that was in the works. It's definitely flagged as a growth route - especially the intermediate stops which are becoming part of Toronto's never-ending urban sprawl.
I remember riding the GO Trains between Oakville and Toronto many,many times as a tourist,and the Trains were always crowded!
 

Woodcut60

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Sorry to hear that! I've probably ridden the Maple Leaf 200 times between various NY Cities and Toronto( Oakville).Really liked the Biz Class 2x1 Seating in the Cafe Car.
Did you really do that? 200 times! If you don't mind asking me, but was that for work i.e. business trips, or vacation?
 

Bob Dylan

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Did you really do that? 200 times! If you don't mind asking me, but was that for work i.e. business trips, or vacation?
Combination of both! I worked in the NE and my In Laws lived in Oakville,ON( Canada) and Ottawa.

When my late wife passed away( her ashes are in Oakville), I continued to visit thru the years ,and after retirement I took a couple of trips a year to Canada on Holiday on Amtrak and VIA.

I was planning to go this August, but of course now I'm hoping for 2021!
 

dogbert617

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With GO trains now running frequently between Niagara Falls, ON to Toronto, do you guys think that once Amtrak service gets fully restored everywhere, that Maple Leaf won't run back to Toronto again? I would hope that one could make the Amtrak Maple Leaf to GO train connection within one station, whether that station was Niagara Falls, NY, or Niagara Falls, Ontario. It's too bad that there seem to be only like 1 or 2(in each direction) scheduled Empire Service trains which go all the way west to Niagara Falls, NY, as my memory was looking over that schedule.
 

jiml

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In the current Covid world the NF to Toronto trains are buses, although I believe GO is restarting one train in a week or two. (I heard something about it today and should have paid closer attention.)
 

PVD

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Normally, it's the ML early, 281 mid morning, and 283 early afternoon...If you are going as far as Depew and don't need BFX or NFL, the LSL leaves later in the afternoon...Lots of trains just to Albany....with EA or the ADK (in normal times) continuing to points North.
 

sttom

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With GO trains now running frequently between Niagara Falls, ON to Toronto, do you guys think that once Amtrak service gets fully restored everywhere, that Maple Leaf won't run back to Toronto again? I would hope that one could make the Amtrak Maple Leaf to GO train connection within one station, whether that station was Niagara Falls, NY, or Niagara Falls, Ontario. It's too bad that there seem to be only like 1 or 2(in each direction) scheduled Empire Service trains which go all the way west to Niagara Falls, NY, as my memory was looking over that schedule.
I think it will when the current crisis settles down. If anything, more frequent GO Transit service would justify a non stop run into Toronto from the border. The problem with transfers is that they hurt ridership. And if I were a tourist and I had to switch from an Amtrak train to a commuter train, I personally wouldn't take the train. Having to put up with a mid trip customs check is painful enough, making me ride a commuter train the rest of the way is a slap in the face.
 

Mailliw

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Hmm, if the Maple Leaf could run without stopping from the border to Toronto then a preclearance facility could be opened up st Toronto Union which could make a night train feasable.
 

dogbert617

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I think it will when the current crisis settles down. If anything, more frequent GO Transit service would justify a non stop run into Toronto from the border. The problem with transfers is that they hurt ridership. And if I were a tourist and I had to switch from an Amtrak train to a commuter train, I personally wouldn't take the train. Having to put up with a mid trip customs check is painful enough, making me ride a commuter train the rest of the way is a slap in the face.
I'd be okay if Amtrak chose to cut the scheduled stops inbetween Niagara Falls, ON and Toronto myself, and make the Maple Leaf run express between those 2 stations. Since as we all know, people could transfer to a GO commuter train for service to Hamilton, Oakville, Mississauga, etc.
 

jiml

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There's been a few key moments in the recent history of the Maple Leaf on the Canadian side. VIA used to have two trains on this route as recently as 10 years ago, as shown in this timetable excerpt:
1592825917708.png

There were a number of factors that brought about the demise of the second train, including a fatal derailment in 2012. Low ridership and lack of equipment were also factors at the time. Once the morning and evening "commuter runs" were gone, the only thing left was their participation in the Maple Leaf operation. GO was rapidly expanding and was expected to step into the void a lot sooner than they have. Niagara Falls was not the priority however, but rather the intermediate stations of St. Catherines and Grimsby, which were developing into bedroom communities for Toronto. Service started up on weekends only with support of the Niagara Parks Commission - an odd move for a service dependent on commuters, but again this is when GO had "spare" equipment available. The train was somewhat of a success and expanded to daily in 2019, where it became quite popular. Before Covid service had expanded to 2-3 trains daily (varied) with plans for a 4th. All but one were extensions of Hamilton trains that ran express to/from Toronto during rush hours. (I won't go into more detail here, but GO served two stations in Hamilton on different routes meaning not all trains could continue to Niagara Falls.)

A major bridge project truncated the Maple Leaf at Niagara Falls, NY, for several months last year. This gave all involved a chance to assess other options for Toronto connections.

While all this was happening at VIA and GO, the decade-long reconstruction project continued at Union Station. At one time a US Customs preclearance facility was proposed, but like Montreal's it faced monetary issues. One problem was solved when the Union-Pearson express train was up and running, since US officers could easily attend only when needed. This went quiet for a long time, but I believe the final nail in its coffin was the election of the current provincial government. Part of their platform was beefed-up rail service in Southwestern Ontario, including trains to Detroit. Formalities for these would be done in Windsor, ON. That left too many "ifs" for a once-a-day train to Niagara Falls that would have to run non-stop in Canada to be practical. I understand the space originally allocated has been used for other purposes.

As Stage 2 of reopening spreads here, GO has announced major restoration of services and train lengths to meet demand, including one frequency to Niagara Falls, with more details to come. Like most places in the US, who knows whether demand will reach previous levels? Couple that with a border some think may remain closed until year-end and the future of the Maple Leaf as we know it or a replacement commuter service are anyone's guess.
 

PVD

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Out of curiosity, what is the passenger load crossing the border and continuing on? Is the existing setup, with VIA taking the train after the border, with the change in crew, cafe stock swap, and revenue/ticket sharing worth it for Amtrak and/or Via? It is always sad to talk about giving something up we have, but is it really viable? I don't know the passenger counts, I've never ridden past BFX on the Leaf.
 
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