The Montreal-New York train, which has been suspended since the end of June due to heat restrictions, is not expected to resume until mid-September. Its principal, Amtrak, says it has not found a “workable solution” with Canadian National (CN) that would have avoided significant delays over the summer.
“Unfortunately, Amtrak, CNN, and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) did not find a workable solution for this summer,” Railroad spokesperson Jason Abrams said via email.
For most users, he says, continuing to provide the service will result in “significant delays of up to four hours,” or even “closing roads halfway through.” Right now, the average train ride between the Big Apple and Montreal is over 11 hours, if all goes well.
This past April, Amtrak announced with great fanfare the return of its Montreal-New York-Adirondack route, which had been put on hold due to the pandemic. In 2019, the train carried 117,490 passengers.
But since the end of June, the train has been held up again since the Canadian National Corporation, which owns the railroads on which Amtrak trains run, imposed “heat limits” that limit their speeds to a range of 10 to 40 miles per hour; In other words, approximately 16 to 64 km / h. The result: It’s a very long and expensive journey to get going.
It all actually stems from a regulation Transport Canada adopted last year, which requires rail organizations to “set temperature limits which, when reached, result in the application of speed limits and additional route-check requirements.” Everything was done to “ensure the safety of the railways and protect the infrastructure during periods of extreme heat,” says the federal government.
Not for two months
Since then, Amtrak claims to have “explored various solutions”, to no avail. Thus, for the time being, the Adirondack will continue to operate only between New York and Albany, and then, beginning July 24, will provide connections only between New York and Saratoga Springs.
The company now plans to restore service between New York and Montreal “in mid-September, when CN is expected to lift its heat restrictions,” Abrams says. “Heat restrictions may be lifted sooner if the local temperature drops, and Amtrak, with the support of our partners, can restore service sooner than expected,” the spokesperson said.
The latter confirms that discussions are nevertheless continuing “to develop a long-term solution so that Amtrak trains can run to and from Montreal over the next summer.” In other words, we want to avoid a repeat of the situation in 2024. “We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience,” Jason Abrams concludes.
CN, on the other hand, strongly blames Amtrak for this situation, considering that the latter refuses to pay the necessary costs that would allow the reopening. “Amtrak is liable and has not paid for the maintenance necessary to maintain the route at a level that guarantees the fluidity of its service,” confirms its spokesperson, Mathieu Goudreau.
According to him, the truth is that Amtrak “refuses to invest in the maintenance and improvement of this section in order to reduce the impact of severe weather conditions,” and that it “does not affect a sufficient number of employees on this route in order to ensure continuous service.”
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