Resumption of Amtrak service to Canada (2022)

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fdaley

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Yes, everything changed since detraining with luggage in each direction, VIA Rail cutting its other frequency, and the extremely high jump in through fares once in Ontario, VIA Rail's attempt to compensate for its poor riderhip.

I last looked at a VIA Rail annual report about 4 or 5 years ago. Taking that route's (with one frequency) annual ridership and dividing by trains per year, it came out to 43 per trip (international + domestic). It was also one of the financially worst performing trains in the entire VIA Rail system, ballpark with Quebec remote trains.

Amtrak website doesn't show state facts sheets for Ontario and Quebec, but from my expereince, every Adirondack load into Montreal (there is no domestic Canadian travel) is in the 121 - 144 range, that number I hear the conductors speak over the radio through my scanner. They are spread through 3 coaches, on each side of the dinette.

It makes sense to me that the schlep-your-luggage-into-the-station drill would drive away business. It might be tolerable for younger adults going on a weekend trip with a backpack and/or a small roller bag. But it's really a hardship for families with children, older folks and those with limited mobility, and anyone with luggage enough for a two- or three-week vacation. (My family's trips typically include two or three of these categories, so I made a note to myself to steer clear of the Maple Leaf after we had to haul ourselves and our stuff off for customs at NFL in 2017.) Even so, I'm surprised the ridership would have fallen so dramatically so quickly.

I did notice when I booked a solo trip a few years back that I could save more than $30 US by booking an Amtrak ticket to NFO and a separate VIA ticket from there to Toronto rather than paying the Amtrak through fare.

The growth of the through traffic on the Adirondack has been impressive and I think was under way for quite a few years before the Maple Leaf customs changes. I can remember some trips in the early '90s when there were only a couple dozen of us crossing into Canada after all the SUNY students detrained at Plattsburgh.
 
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Amtrak25

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Is there any concrete news as to if and when the Adirondack will start operations again? For example has Amtrak set a date?

Ta

No, from an ESPA official, because:

1) deteriorated track conditions on CN north of Cantic, taking full advantage of not hosting Amtrak for two years by significantly reducing maintenance and maximum authorized speeds.

(By 2019, it was already 49MPH max, and 30MPH on jointed rail portions.)

2) need for Amtrak to negotiate a new operating agreement with EXO, the owner of the last mile of track into Central Station.

Sounds too much like another Sunset-East or Montrealer situation.

Toronto service would likely come back first despite VIA Rail's lack of enthusiasm.
 
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John Bredin

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Dec 18, 2007
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suburban Chicago (Deerfield)
No, from an ESPA official, because:

1) deteriorated track conditions on CN north of Cantic, taking full advantage of not hosting Amtrak for two years by significantly reducing maintenance and maximum authorized speeds.

(By 2019, it was already 49MPH max, and 30MPH on jointed rail portions.)

2) need for Amtrak to negotiate a new operating agreement with EXO, the owner of the last mile of track into Central Station.

Sounds too much like another Sunset-East or Montrealer situation.

Toronto service would likely come back first despite VIA Rail's lack of enthusiasm.
Both points concern restoring the Adirondack to Montreal, but the train also served various stations in New York (it's named for a region and state park in New York, not for its Canadian destination like the Maple Leaf or old International) that would presumably be popular with summer tourists from the NYC area. As I recall, New York State paid for the Adirondack, why not one train a day to, umm, the Adirondacks?
 
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Both points concern restoring the Adirondack to Montreal, but the train also served various stations in New York (it's named for a region and state park in New York, not for its Canadian destination like the Maple Leaf or old International) that would presumably be popular with summer tourists from the NYC area. As I recall, New York State paid for the Adirondack, why not one train a day to, umm, the Adirondacks?
It seems logical that they could run it to Plattsburgh even now without the cross-border service. I can only surmise that there's no place to turn the train in Plattsburgh. I suppose they could run it in a push-pull configuration, but I guess there might be a shortage of cab cars available. Aside from Plattsburgh there aren't a whole lot of population centers north of Saratoga Springs, and it looks like there are enough side tracks around Saratoga Springs to run the locomotives around the train. There's even a wye a little south of the station (at least from Google Maps). They could at least run a truncated train to Saratoga Springs, which would improve frequency pf service both there and in Schenectady.
 

Amtrak25

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There is no place to relay a train between Saratoga Springs and Montreal, CP won't let them linger for a couple of hours in a passing sidings, and NYS-DOT seems uninterested in even running it that far, content with the 3 hour gap in NYC-Albany service. 75% of the ridership north of Albany is headed for Montreal, complete opposite circumstance than the Maple Leaf.

Only 2 people at DOT are assigned to Amtrak. It's not very important to them.

The train rename was political, being the former D&H "Laurentian", better to name the train after the same mountain range in NYS.

Only remedy I see is to reroute back onto the CP from Rousses Pt to Lucien L'allier. It already has EXO commuter trains from Candiac, leaving a 32 mile gap. Then there would be halfway decent track to a crappy terminal, rather than crappy track to a nice terminal. If Amtrak is having such a nice relationship with CP right now, they ought to try that.
 

Amtrak25

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Didn’t they do a test run on CP a few years back?

I never heard of that, but it easily could happen without my knowledge.

What I was told by someone in ESPA about 10 years ago is FRA would not permit it since the rail is old, ignoring the fact that multiple rush hour EXO commuter trains and CP freights use it without incident. I rode one down to the Exporail in 2016 (with their version of NJT Comet cars - but shiny and immaculate). There is jointed rail, but they get up a good head of steam nonetheless.
 
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The advantage of using VIA's central station for the Adirondack over CP's Windsor (now EXO commuter) is simply infrastructure and connections. Anyone who's been to both knows they are in easy walking distance of each other, but Lucien L'allier has little to offer long-distance passengers. Not saying that couldn't be provided, but would need funding (by the same authorities who haven't paid for the Customs facility in Gare Centrale).
 

Amtrak25

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Lucien L'allier would just be an open air facility like St Lambert with no amenities, and a rather lonely place on weekends, something like Hoboken. I don't think anyone would object to running an Amtrak train to Hoboken today. I'll take that over taking the Dog to their bus terminal.

They could also add an intermediate stop at Montreal West or Vendome, the latter having an easier transfer situation to the subway with less twisting and turning through various passageways, stairs, and doors than at Gare Central.

There would be the issue of being on EXO platforms within their paid fare zone without one of their validated tickets.

I am sure there is no one on any railroad who once worked Amtrak to Windsor station until the mid 1980's. I don't remember if Amtrak was crewing their trains, or was D&H's. So now, either the Amtrak crew would have to qualify for the route, or do a crew change at Rousses Pt and get a CP crew who is qualified on passenger trains, or a Bombardier/EXO crew with CP heritage who is already qualifed on that trackage and is passenger train or HEP certified.
 

Willbridge

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Lucien L'allier would just be an open air facility like St Lambert with no amenities, and a rather lonely place on weekends, something like Hoboken. I don't think anyone would object to running an Amtrak train to Hoboken today. I'll take that over taking the Dog to their bus terminal.

They could also add an intermediate stop at Montreal West or Vendome, the latter having an easier transfer situation to the subway with less twisting and turning through various passageways, stairs, and doors than at Gare Central.

There would be the issue of being on EXO platforms within their paid fare zone without one of their validated tickets.

I am sure there is no one on any railroad who once worked Amtrak to Windsor station until the mid 1980's. I don't remember if Amtrak was crewing their trains, or was D&H's. So now, either the Amtrak crew would have to qualify for the route, or do a crew change at Rousses Pt and get a CP crew who is qualified on passenger trains, or a Bombardier/EXO crew with CP heritage who is already qualifed on that trackage and is passenger train or HEP certified.
I visited Windsor Station in 1999. Has it been changed since then?

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toddinde

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No, from an ESPA official, because:

1) deteriorated track conditions on CN north of Cantic, taking full advantage of not hosting Amtrak for two years by significantly reducing maintenance and maximum authorized speeds.

(By 2019, it was already 49MPH max, and 30MPH on jointed rail portions.)

2) need for Amtrak to negotiate a new operating agreement with EXO, the owner of the last mile of track into Central Station.

Sounds too much like another Sunset-East or Montrealer situation.

Toronto service would likely come back first despite VIA Rail's lack of enthusiasm.
This is something all advocates need to hear. When you lose a train, it may be gone forever or a really long time. Rock Island Quad Cities Rocket ended in 1978. We may get service back in a couple years. North Coast Hiawatha ended in 1979. It may come back in a few years.
 
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It was named Windsor until 2001, then renamed Lucien L'Allier.
Part of the former station was taken to construct the Centre Bell (Montreal Canadiens arena) and the platforms were shortened, but it's the same tracks in the same general location. There was a big push to purge English names twenty years ago, so no more Windsor.
 

Amtrak25

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From Wikipedia: Lucien L'Allier (1909 - 1978) was a Canadian engineer who is best known for having built the Montreal Metro, the city's subway system.

Looking at Google Satellite, it looks like an EXO switcher engine would have to haul the train back and forth to and from Montreal West's yard for servicing and wying, unless Amtrak were to top and tail it. The station is set up only for push-pull operation. I don't know what it was like when Amtrak ran there 40 years ago.
 

fdaley

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Part of the former station was taken to construct the Centre Bell (Montreal Canadiens arena) and the platforms were shortened, but it's the same tracks in the same general location. There was a big push to purge English names twenty years ago, so no more Windsor.

If you get off the train at Lucien L'Allier and bear to the right inside the station, you can follow an indoor passageway through the ground level of the arena and wind up in the old concourse of Windsor Station before heading outside, which is what I usually do if I come in on the Candiac line on day trips from northern NY. So it kind of still is Windsor Station, except with a longer hike from the train.
 

Devil's Advocate

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There was a big push to purge English names twenty years ago, so no more Windsor.
There are many words that look and sound similar in both languages but instead they choose a name that would confuse almost any anglophone. I doubt this is an accident since Quebec does not seem to view language as a means of productive communication so much as a tool for cultural dominance.
 

slasher-fun

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Part of the former station was taken to construct the Centre Bell (Montreal Canadiens arena) and the platforms were shortened, but it's the same tracks in the same general location. There was a big push to purge English names twenty years ago, so no more Windsor.
Gare Windsor still exists at its initial location. The new station has been renamed gare Lucien L'Allier to prevent confusion between the two.
There are many words that look and sound similar in both languages but instead they choose a name that would confuse almost any anglophone. I doubt this is an accident since Quebec does not seem to view language as a means of productive communication so much as a tool for cultural dominance.
How would "Lucien L'Allier" confuse any anglophone?
Cultural dominance? Because a province of 7M French speaking Quebecers (85% of the population), surrounded by ~250M English speaking North-Americans, is using the name of someone of its own culture?
 

Devil's Advocate

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How would "Lucien L'Allier" confuse any anglophone?
Confuse as in they would not be able to pronounce it if read or spell it if heard.

Cultural dominance? Because a province of 7M French speaking Quebecers (85% of the population), surrounded by ~250M English speaking North-Americans, is using the name of someone of its own culture?
If Texas went on a cultural cleansing spree that aggressively sanitized Spanish names and pushed English on everyone I would mock those moves as well.
 
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