Chicago to Montréal Service

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Re: Chicago to Montréal Service

Postby Ridgefielder » Thu Jun 14, 2018 11:42 am

mtuandrew wrote:Mark my words: new cross-border service (the Montrealer with or without BOS section) won’t happen until 2021 at the earliest, not with this government outright insulting the destination country. Perhaps it won’t happen until 2025, 2033, or not at all.

Amtrak and VIA could get away with quiet Thruway cross-border connections right now, or even a bus Montreal-St. Albans, but more than that would draw the Boss’ ire.

Eh, I think it has a lot more to do with the Congressional delegations of VT/MA and legislatures of Vermont and Quebec Province than with the Administration in DC or Ottawa. If they come up with the $ the trains will run. See, for example, what NJ has just done with Gateway.
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Re: Chicago to Montréal Service

Postby MACTRAXX » Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:00 pm

bdawe wrote:I would think that the best option for such a service would be neither this proposal nor by way of the ex-CN/GTW route, but rather by way of the Michigan Central Tunnel in Detroit. This has the benefit of serving the much larger metropolitan areas of Windsor and Detroit bypassed by the Grand Trunk, making use of ongoing Amtrak, Michigan , VIA Rail & Ontario investments in higher speed corridors connecting Chicago & Detroit and Montreal and Toronto rather than the smaller cities of upstate New York.

Furthermore, the Michigan Central Tunnel is majority owned by an Ontario pension fund, who could likely be more easily induced to part with the tunnel than could a class I railway.


bdawe and Everyone:

I found a video on YouTube about the 1994 renovation of the Detroit River Tunnel from CP Rail.
Who now has control of the tunnel taking note of the mentioned Ontario pension fund majority
owner? The problem with Detroit-Windsor would be aligning tracks from the tunnel to the VIA
owned route into Walkerville and the Amtrak used route on the Detroit side.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnSfOuCJdR4

The most direct route will again be the International route via Port Huron and Sarnia.

Taking note to the direct service ideas from New England a Boston-Montreal direct service would
be an interesting addition - but the most practical service to Montreal may be restoring the route
of the "Montrealer" from New York north or second another "Adirondack" frequency...

The trouble of it all would again be getting Customs and Immigration formalities squared away.
With the current strained relations between the US and Canada this may not be the best time
to attempt train restorations of this type...MACTRAXX
EXPRESS TRAIN TO NEW YORK PENN STATION-NO JAMAICA ON THIS TRAIN-PLEASE STAND CLEAR OF THE CLOSING TRAIN DOORS
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Re: Chicago to Montréal Service

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:50 pm

Ridgefielder wrote:Eh, I think it has a lot more to do with the Congressional delegations of VT/MA and legislatures of Vermont and Quebec Province than with the Administration in DC or Ottawa. If they come up with the $ the trains will run. See, for example, what NJ has just done with Gateway.

I see what you mean re: Montpelier and Montreal funding the necessary improvements, but Washington (USCBP) and Ottawa (CBSA) control the border. The proposed Montrealer is easily held hostage over a NAFTA disagreement, as are any Maple Leaf, Adirondack, or Cascades improvements. I also am concerned about the immediate future of the Gordie Howe Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, and US EPA “suddenly” finding a Superfund Site (which probably does exist) in the Detroit River, which needs mitigation before construction.
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Re: Chicago to Montréal Service

Postby Ridgefielder » Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:15 pm

mtuandrew wrote:
Ridgefielder wrote:Eh, I think it has a lot more to do with the Congressional delegations of VT/MA and legislatures of Vermont and Quebec Province than with the Administration in DC or Ottawa. If they come up with the $ the trains will run. See, for example, what NJ has just done with Gateway.

I see what you mean re: Montpelier and Montreal funding the necessary improvements, but Washington (USCBP) and Ottawa (CBSA) control the border. The proposed Montrealer is easily held hostage over a NAFTA disagreement, as are any Maple Leaf, Adirondack, or Cascades improvements.

It's possible, but unlikely. Both side would have a lot more leverage if they, say, started holding up truck traffic crossing Ontario between NY and MI (every other truck on Ontario 401 had American plates when I drove that way three summers ago) or gumming up auto parts flows between Windsor and Detroit. Screwing around with passenger trains is more likely to just annoy voters w/out getting any significant concessions from either side.

Also, it's worth noting that Trudeau's position in Ottawa might not be all that secure. His party, the Liberals, just got wiped out in the Ontario provincial elections last week. They're not even the official opposition anymore. And he's facing a general election sometime in the next 18 months.

Bottom line is I wouldn't start worrying yet about bellicose rhetoric impeding cross-border travel. It's going to take more than this to keep our Québecois neighbors away from Old Orchard Beach this summer.

(Oh, and one other minor point-- the capital of PQ is Québec, not Montréal. :wink: )
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Re: Chicago to Montréal Service

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:34 pm

Lest we forget, it's "been a while" since Amtrak was being mandated to add "a route a month". It was that kind of thinking that resulted in politically charged routes such as The Niagra Rainbow, The Mountaineer, The Shenandoah, The Hilltopper, The Pioneer, The Desert Wind, The Gulf Breeze, the Fort Worth-Dallas Texas Chief, the Sunset (extension), and a few others I've overlooked.

All that junk is gone, and now we are addressing another, especially in this day and age where the mandate is to run Amtrak as a business enterprise, to again add more junk.

Sorry, Mr. Ben Boston, for blowing hot air on your proposal, which I will respect you presented here in good faith.
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Re: Chicago to Montréal Service

Postby benboston » Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:35 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:Lest we forget, it's "been a while" since Amtrak was being mandated to add "a route a month". It was that kind of thinking that resulted in politically charged routes such as The Niagra Rainbow, The Mountaineer, The Shenandoah, The Hilltopper, The Pioneer, The Desert Wind, The Gulf Breeze, the Fort Worth-Dallas Texas Chief, the Sunset (extension), and a few others I've overlooked.

All that junk is gone, and now we are addressing another, especially in this day and age where the mandate is to run Amtrak as a business enterprise, to again add more junk.

Sorry, Mr. Ben Boston, for blowing hot air on your proposal, which I will respect you presented here in good faith.


I don't think that it is necessary for a new route even. I think that either a new route, increased frequencies on routes with connections, or simply new connections. There should be a connection from one of the Michigan Services to Corridor in Canada in my opinion. This is because Amtrak owns the majority of the Michigan Services track and then there is an easy connection to Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, and Québec. Another important increase in connections is Boston to Montréal. This could easily be solved by increased Adirondack frequencies; which could be done because Montréal and NYC are two very large car optional cities who are in a close proximity to each other. Then, either a deal with CSX in Massachusetts allowing for increased Lake Shore Limited frequencies or simply better connections with the existing options because Boston and Montréal are also two very car optional cities who still aren't that far. This is same the with Seattle/Portland to Vancouver, although no connections are required this is a very busy corridor where there are only two round trips that continue onwards to Vancouver each day.
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Re: Chicago to Montréal Service

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Jun 14, 2018 9:15 pm

All of that would be nice, Ben, and I hope at least some of it comes to pass. I’d love to start with DET-WIN, as either a train or as a light rail line from Customs to Customs. Additional Adirondacks would be nice, or maybe a Montreal Ethan Allen along with the potential Montrealer rebirth.
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Re: Chicago to Montréal Service

Postby bretton88 » Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:35 pm

mtuandrew wrote:All of that would be nice, Ben, and I hope at least some of it comes to pass. I’d love to start with DET-WIN, as either a train or as a light rail line from Customs to Customs. Additional Adirondacks would be nice, or maybe a Montreal Ethan Allen along with the potential Montrealer rebirth.

I'd go with even lower hanging fruit. Just extending a few runs of the Tunnel Bus to the Amtrak Station and to the VIA station in Windsor should suffice for cross border traffic.
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Re: Chicago to Montréal Service

Postby BandA » Thu Jun 14, 2018 11:06 pm

I believe there is a project already agreed upon to build a customs facility at the Montreal train station, which would provide for the Adirondack and the Vermonter nee Montrealer. I don't see NAFTA negotiations really interfering with this, except if things get bad there might be fewer travelers. This wouldn't help a Chicago-Montreal train unless it crossed the border near the end point, i.e. in NY state.
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Re: Chicago to Montréal Service

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:02 am

bretton88 wrote:I'd go with even lower hanging fruit. Just extending a few runs of the Tunnel Bus to the Amtrak Station and to the VIA station in Windsor should suffice for cross border traffic.

100% agree, though I’d personally rent a minibus for dedicated Thruway service rather than forcing the Tunnel Bus to take on another role. Either would be better than the Q-Line + Tunnel Bus + Windsor City bus.

My prior list is a good start too. Also add a Boston section of a future Montrealer and guaranteed connections between both EB and WB Lake Shore Limiteds and NB and SB Adirondacks - which fills the MTL-CHI brief of this thread.
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Re: Chicago to Montréal Service

Postby Tadman » Fri Jun 15, 2018 8:50 am

I've been waiting for some time to weigh in on this proposal, it's very interesting to me.

First, the north country New York idea is a non-starter to me. There's little people up there and Montreal/Buffalo/Cleveland are not well known travel cities.

Second, the concept of a Chicago-Michigan-Toronto-Montreal train is also a bit rough for me.

What I do see, however, are three existing and reasonably good corridors already lined up, end-to-end, that make this route. Chicago-Detroit, Windsor-Toronto, and Toronto-Montreal. The Chicago and Toronto ends both feature higher-speed and frequent corridor service, while all three segments feature heavy population and industry. The only thing really missing is through-ticketing at Detroit (lets face it, running via Port Huron is useless) and a useful transfer method. At the France/Spain border, they sometimes run the train for one stop across the border (IE TGV runs to Irun, drops passengers, they clear customs, board RENFE; in reverse, RENFE goes to Hendaye, drops passengers, they board SNCF for points in France). Alternatively, a nice motor coach would work.

Any way you look at it, some tweaking could make for a very useful and viable corridor between Chicago and Montreal with fast and frequent service. It probably wouldn't be useful for endpoint service, but would be great for business persons in the steel or auto industry.

A big first step would be through-ticketing, branding, and a solid connection in Detroit.
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Re: Chicago to Montréal Service

Postby Noel Weaver » Fri Jun 15, 2018 7:34 pm

I still think the best route between Chicago and Toronto/Montreal is what already exists as of right now. The CN route through Michigan to Port Huron - Sarnia - London and on to Montreal either by through train or a cross platform connection at Toronto. Other than the border crossing all of this route presently has Amtrak or Via service and is in good shape for passenger trains.
I am not entirely convinced that Boston - Montreal would be a really good passenger train market at least not as things exist today. As for Worcester vs Fitchburg both Worcester amd Springfield had access to good air service something that is not offered along the former B & M between Boston and Greenfield so I still think the ideal route out of Boston would be via Fitchburg. It is also considerably shorter than via Springfield.
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Re: Chicago to Montréal Service

Postby johndmuller » Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:22 pm

Backshophoss » Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:56 am

The CSX line to Canada is up for grabs,but is not an active passenger route,any shortline operation will not be interested in upgrading to
passenger train standards,until it has a steady flow of freight traffic from both sides of the border.

CSX can put a "requirement" in the sales contract,that bars the shortline from doing anything for Amtrak as was done to a shortline
on the Indiana-Kentucky border.


What's with that? and Why?
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Re: Chicago to Montréal Service

Postby Backshophoss » Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:49 am

Backtrack to the History of the short lived "Kentucky Cardinal",a route that used the old PRR/CR to cross into Louisville.
That was sold off to a Shortline by CSX,the "do nothing for Amtrak" cause was part of the sale contract, or no Business/interchange traffic from CSX.
Believe that was noted in a thread on Kentucky Cardinal here or in an article in Railfan&Railroad or Trains mag.

To crawl back to the topic,There's too much traffic,Casino related,and automotive related freight crossing the Ambassador bridge NOW,
Bring back the International via Port Huron-Sarnia crossing, would be easier on both US and Canadian customs,and would be the crew change point
between Amtrak-VIA,at Toronto,change to a Montreal or Ottawa Corridor train to those cities.
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