Resumption of Amtrak service to Canada (2022)

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zephyr17

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I've ridden it several times, and been seated in the BC coach, TWO-NFL. The single open coach TWO-NFL is the one just forward of the BC/Cafe. I have seen them open both doors at NFL, and have also seen then open just the one in the open coach, which is no big deal since that door is just forward of BC/cafe. I've not had them not seat me in BC, Toronto-Niagara Falls.

I last rode it across the border in 2018. In my 2019 trip, it was bustituted between Toronto and Niagara Falls, NY due to bridge work on the Whirlpool bridge. The bus went through the normal bus border controls at the Rainbow Bridge Port of Entry, btw.
 

zephyr17

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The Maple Leaf to Toronto is available again for purchase on the Amtrak app in about a week starting on June 27th.
That is good news for me! Right now I am booked NFL-NYP in business in November. I booked it early because I wanted one of the 18 BC seats. Booked it later once(about 3 months before) and BC was sold out. If the train still wasn't running through I figured I'd either take Megabus to Buffalo and change my Amtrak ticket to BFX or take GO Transit to Niagara Falls, ON, and cab/Uber to the Rainbow Bridge, then cab/Uber to NFL.

Since the train is coming back, I'll either extend my ticket to TWO with Amtrak, or buy a Toronto-Niagara Falls, NY ticket from VIA on their train 97 (their side of the Leaf) to get an extra VIA segment credit and points in Preference. I am leaning towards booking with VIA.

Now if they only get the Cascades running, at least on weekends again, so I don't have to do a weird EVR-SEA-VAC itinerary on the Builder and the Cantrail bus to Vancouver to get from Everett to Vancouver. WSDOT is still holding out some vague hope getting Amtrak to start some less than daily service (likely Fri-Sat-Sun) to Vancouver before December 2022.

Finally, something is up with it on viarail.ca. it used to just say no service. Now it says "no service on date requested. Next service is on [next day]." Try the next day and get the same message, ad infinitum. Think it may be an artifact of them in the process of adding it into their system.
 
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Bob Dylan

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VIA has been known to use the business car for local traffic, with no actual business service. On several occasions we have had to sit in regular coach between Toronto and Niagara Falls if origin or destination was in NY State although holding business class tickets. "That's an Amtrak ticket" is a common reason, as is saying CBP or CBSA wants all cross-border passengers in one car. In fairness, we've also had to move from Business at Amtrak's behest between Buffalo and the border for the same reason. They usually open only one door for border checks and it's not in the business car.
I've never had to do that while riding in BC in Biz Class on the Maple Leaf in both directions, so things have changed.( disclaimer: it's been over 2 years since I made that trip.)

Also, you used to be checked on the Train @ the VIa Station on the Canadian side, but for the past few years everyone has had to get off with their stuff and go into the Station for the process before reboarding when everyone was cleared.
 
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zephyr17

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Also, you used to be checked on the Train @ the VIa Station on the Canadian side, but for the past few years everyone has had to get off with their stuff and go into the Station for the process before reboarding when everyone was cleared.
Yeah, unfortunately that is the process both CBSA and CBP prefer. I think there may be resistance to restarting the Adirondack from those agencies on that basis since in station processing isn't possible on it. Like problems with Amtrak aren't enough.

Anyone have any word on NYS getting that one going again? We now have at least some word on the Cascades (not good news, but at least some news) and the Leaf, but not the Adirondack.
 

fdaley

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VIA has been known to use the business car for local traffic, with no actual business service. On several occasions we have had to sit in regular coach between Toronto and Niagara Falls if origin or destination was in NY State although holding business class tickets. "That's an Amtrak ticket" is a common reason, as is saying CBP or CBSA wants all cross-border passengers in one car. In fairness, we've also had to move from Business at Amtrak's behest between Buffalo and the border for the same reason. They usually open only one door for border checks and it's not in the business car.
I thought that in recent years they had made everyone pile off the train at the Maple Leaf border crossings. On my last ride on it in 2018, I had a BC seat to Toronto and was allowed back to the same seat after hauling my luggage into the VIA NFO station for a lengthy customs interview.
 

zephyr17

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I thought that in recent years they had made everyone pile off the train at the Maple Leaf border crossings. On my last ride on it in 2018, I had a BC seat to Toronto and was allowed back to the same seat after hauling my luggage into the VIA NFO station for a lengthy customs interview.
Yeah, they make everyone pile off on both sides and had for several years pre-COVID.
 
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I thought that in recent years they had made everyone pile off the train at the Maple Leaf border crossings. On my last ride on it in 2018, I had a BC seat to Toronto and was allowed back to the same seat after hauling my luggage into the VIA NFO station for a lengthy customs interview.
Indeed. Our last ride was northbound in 2017 and the Amtrak conductor had all Canada-bound passengers vacate the business car before Niagara Falls, NY, where the Amtrak crew left the train. On the Canadian side only one door was opened to encourage a single-file line into the CBSA screening. When re-boarding the business class/cafe car remained closed for the rest of the trip to Toronto. In 2019 the bridge was closed for lengthy repairs, resulting in suspension of the service, and everyone knows what happened after that. :( I'm anxious to see if anything has changed if and when the train resumes.
 

zephyr17

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Hmm, going the other direction to New York from Toronto in 2018 and earlier, the car was always staffed by VIA with VIA stock. The VIA attendant boxed up all his stock and got off at Niagara Falls, ON. I thought it was quite the class act for VIA to provide full cafe service for a two hour trip and not deprive people of access to needed coffee for a fairly early departure.

Unfortunately, the one time I rode it both directions in 2019, I got caught by the Whirlpool Bridge closure an was bustituted between Niagara Falls, NY and Toronto. Even so, VIA was a class act. The train's service manager was aboard the bus and passed out free bottled water and granola bars for everyone.
 

fdaley

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Hmm, going the other direction to New York from Toronto in 2018 and earlier, the car was always staffed by VIA with VIA stock. The VIA attendant boxed up all his stock and got off at Niagara Falls, ON. I thought it was quite the class act for VIA to provide full cafe service for a two hour trip and not deprive people of access to needed coffee for a fairly early departure.

Unfortunately, the one time I rode it both directions in 2019, I got caught by the Whirlpool Bridge closure an was bustituted between Niagara Falls, NY and Toronto. Even so, VIA was a class act. The train's service manager was aboard the bus and passed out free bottled water and granola bars for everyone.
I remember that VIA snack counter setup, which had the feeling of a very temporary occupation of Amtrak's space. I'm not sure the VIA attendant had access to any of the Amtrak cupboards or fridges, so his stuff was just laid out on the surfaces. At least in recent years, the VIA menu was very limited, but I appreciated that they made the effort. And the coffee was good.
 

zephyr17

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I remember that VIA snack counter setup, which had the feeling of a very temporary occupation of Amtrak's space. I'm not sure the VIA attendant had access to any of the Amtrak cupboards or fridges, so his stuff was just laid out on the surfaces. At least in recent years, the VIA menu was very limited, but I appreciated that they made the effort. And the coffee was good.
Not sure about fridges, but it was laid out on surfaces. Makes sense, because he has to get it all packed up again by Niagara Falls.

He stayed open longer than I thought he would, too. To at or shortly before St. Catherine's. If an Amtrak attendant, he would have closed up around Hamilton 🙄.
 

Amtrak25

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I remember that VIA snack counter setup, which had the feeling of a very temporary occupation of Amtrak's space. I'm not sure the VIA attendant had access to any of the Amtrak cupboards or fridges, so his stuff was just laid out on the surfaces. At least in recent years, the VIA menu was very limited, but I appreciated that they made the effort. And the coffee was good.

VIA's cafe coach food service is not that elaborate in the first place. Only thing hot is coffee/hot water. Everything else comes out of the airline aisle cart.

Regardless, I won't ride the Maple Leaf into Canada as long as these off-board custom shenanigans continue.
 

zephyr17

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VIA's cafe coach food service is not that elaborate in the first place. Only thing hot is coffee/hot water. Everything else comes out of the airline aisle cart.

Regardless, I won't ride the Maple Leaf into Canada as long as these off-board custom shenanigans continue.
Then you will never ride it again. Neither CBP nor CBSA are going to return to onboard inspections on the Maple Leaf. Both agencies seriously hate onboard inspections and consider them less secure. I think it is quite possible one or both agencies may well try to block resumption of the Adirondack due to this mindset because in station inspections are not possible on it. At most Canada may at some point exercise their Preclearance rights and set up in the relatively new Niagara Falls, NY station, which was designed specifically with facilities to support full in station Immigration and Customs inspections with both CBP and possible future use by CBSA in mind.

PS, no cart on the Maple Leaf. The VIA attendant sets up at the cafe counter on the Leaf.
 
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Hmm, going the other direction to New York from Toronto in 2018 and earlier, the car was always staffed by VIA with VIA stock. The VIA attendant boxed up all his stock and got off at Niagara Falls, ON. I thought it was quite the class act for VIA to provide full cafe service for a two hour trip and not deprive people of access to needed coffee for a fairly early departure.
Yes, that's exactly how it worked on all of my southbound trips, although on a couple of occasions VIA designated New York cars and local cars out of Toronto resulting in confusion for those of us holding Business tickets on Amtrak stock. (The business car was in the "local" section.)

Sidebar note: Those were the days when VIA had the Coke and Amtrak still had Pepsi.
 
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I remember that VIA snack counter setup, which had the feeling of a very temporary occupation of Amtrak's space. I'm not sure the VIA attendant had access to any of the Amtrak cupboards or fridges, so his stuff was just laid out on the surfaces. At least in recent years, the VIA menu was very limited, but I appreciated that they made the effort. And the coffee was good.
Yes, that was definitely the case and I don't recall any hot food (e.g. breakfast sandwich). VIA used to get their coffee from a regional Toronto place called Second Cup for many corridor runs out of Toronto. Although not a coffee-drinker myself, my expert liked it. ;)
 
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Then you will never ride it again. Neither CBP nor CBSA are going to return to onboard inspections on the Maple Leaf. Both agencies seriously hate onboard inspections and consider them less secure. I think it is quite possible one or both agencies may well try to block resumption of the Adirondack due to this mindset because in station inspections are not possible on it. At most Canada may at some point exercise their Preclearance rights and set up in the relatively new Niagara Falls, NY station, which was designed specifically with facilities to support full in station Immigration and Customs inspections with both CBP and possible future use by CBSA in mind.

PS, no cart on the Maple Leaf. The VIA attendant sets up at the cafe counter on the Leaf.
As on older person, I so miss the very informal relationship that used to exist between the two countries. With hundreds of land crossings in my lifetime just having your driver's license (birth certificate card for children) in your hand would often get a wave through in either direction when going by car. Canadian authorities were mostly concerned that returning citizens bought too much cheap booze and Americans were concerned about how many people were in the car and their citizenship. Where it's easy to blame 9-11 for the degradation, it was more of a contributing factor than the sole cause of today's mess. The on-board rail inspections were problematic because they took more staff, that had to be brought in from other locations twice a day.

Canadian pre-clearance at Niagara Falls specifically is rooted in money issues, but it comes down to how much to invest in one train a day. If GO were to revive their pre-pandemic proposal to run 4 trains a day into Niagara Falls, NY, it might make a difference, however there are capital costs and manpower issues associated with that moving forward.
 

Bob Dylan

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The Maple Leaf to Toronto is available again for purchase on the Amtrak app in about a week starting on June 27th. We'll find out soon if it actually is running. Shows as Via Rail #98 on the Canadian side going towards Toronto. Haven't noticed anything about the Adirondack or Cascades services however
😎And the Toronto to NYP service begins the next day 6/28 as VIA Train #7097.
 
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😎And the Toronto to NYP service begins the next day 6/28 as VIA Train #7097.
For which no tickets appear to be available:
There was no service found matching your search criteria. For more information, please send an e-mail or contact VIA Rail directly at 1-888-VIA-RAIL. If your trip involves a service provided by another carrier, please contact them directly.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Then you will never ride it again. Neither CBP nor CBSA are going to return to onboard inspections on the Maple Leaf. Both agencies seriously hate onboard inspections and consider them less secure. I think it is quite possible one or both agencies may well try to block resumption of the Adirondack due to this mindset because in station inspections are not possible on it.
Well... never say never. It’s entirely possible a new system is developed one day.

I also thought the goal with the Adirondack was to have the clearance in Montreal like they do for the Cascades?
 

glensfallsse

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As on older person, I so miss the very informal relationship that used to exist between the two countries. With hundreds of land crossings in my lifetime just having your driver's license (birth certificate card for children) in your hand would often get a wave through in either direction when going by car. Canadian authorities were mostly concerned that returning citizens bought too much cheap booze and Americans were concerned about how many people were in the car and their citizenship. Where it's easy to blame 9-11 for the degradation, it was more of a contributing factor than the sole cause of today's mess. The on-board rail inspections were problematic because they took more staff, that had to be brought in from other locations twice a day.

Canadian pre-clearance at Niagara Falls specifically is rooted in money issues, but it comes down to how much to invest in one train a day. If GO were to revive their pre-pandemic proposal to run 4 trains a day into Niagara Falls, NY, it might make a difference, however there are capital costs and manpower issues associated with that moving forward.
I came through Buffalo once years ago during rush hour. "Citizenship?" the customs officer asked. "U.S." I said. "Thanks." That was it.
I walked back through the San Ysidro crossing from Tijuana one night in the 1990s. Two lines of people simply filed past a single officer, who just kept asking if everyone was a U.S. citizen.
In college before that, Plattsburgh had a bus that would go to Montreal and back on some weekends. One night the customs office stepped onto the bus briefly and asked, "Anyone have any alcohol, other than what's in your stomach?" A drunken laugh ensued. On we went.
 

zephyr17

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Well... never say never. It’s entirely possible a new system is developed one day.

I also thought the goal with the Adirondack was to have the clearance in Montreal like they do for the Cascades?
Yes, it is, but according to posts earlier in this thread, movement had stopped on it and it is it'll probably be several years to get there once it gets back going. My understanding is that is a requirement by CBP and CBSA for ever allowing the Vermonter to be re-extended back to Montreal. They won't support another train requiring onboard inspection.
 

zephyr17

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Wow, maybe it's only available thru Amtrak since its Amtrak equipment. Perhaps VIA hasn't had time to load it into their system ???🤪
It wasn't in the Before Times, it was in both. Based on how ReserVIA is behaving right now for it (service next day, forever), I suspect they are in the middle of doing  something with it in the system.
 
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fdaley

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Regardless, I won't ride the Maple Leaf into Canada as long as these off-board custom shenanigans continue.

This is pretty much how I feel about it. I tolerated the schlep-off-the-train-with-your-luggage routine on my one-way solo trip in 2018, and I might put up with it again sometime if I'm traveling alone. But I remember thinking when we went through it on a family trip in 2017, "Let's not do this again." So the next family trip, we took the Adirondack, even though it added a day to the itinerary, and sat on board for the inspection.

Most of my cross-border travel is for family vacations, which at this point invariably involve a wheelchair, some combination of kids and/or very elderly parents, and enough luggage for two or three weeks of travel. There's no way I'm going to corral us and all of our stuff off the train and back on again for the sake of the border agencies' security theater.

So while I'm glad on principle that the Maple Leaf will be running again, the prospects of me riding it anytime soon are quite low. It used to offer a decent way of connecting to the Canadian, but it really doesn't anymore. We'll consider the Adirondack if it's running as it did pre-pandemic, and otherwise we'll just drive to St. Lambert or to one of the VIA corridor stations such as Cornwall or Brockville.
 
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zephyr17

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Canadian pre-clearance at Niagara Falls specifically is rooted in money issues, but it comes down to how much to invest in one train a day. If GO were to revive their pre-pandemic proposal to run 4 trains a day into Niagara Falls, NY, it might make a difference, however there are capital costs and manpower issues associated with that moving forward.
Not really sure I get that. The capital costs have largely been spent, the Niagara Falls, NY station is already there with Port of Entry facilities designed for both sides from the outset.

It shouldn't require any different manpower than CBSA staffing Niagara Falls, ON for just one train. They just have to send agents up the other side of Gorge from the main crossing at Rainbow Bridge instead of on their side.
 

fdaley

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Yes, that was definitely the case and I don't recall any hot food (e.g. breakfast sandwich). VIA used to get their coffee from a regional Toronto place called Second Cup for many corridor runs out of Toronto. Although not a coffee-drinker myself, my expert liked it. ;)
Yeah, Second Cup was good -- much better, I thought, than the Dunkin' that Amtrak was serving at the time.
 
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