The Montreal-New York train, which has been suspended since late June due to heat restrictions, is not expected to resume service until mid-September. Its manager, Amtrak, has not found a “workable solution” with Canadian National (CN) that could avoid major summer delays.
“Unfortunately, Amtrak, CN and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) have not found a workable solution for this summer,” Jason Abrams, a spokesman for the train company, said via email.
He argued that continuing to provide the service would result in “significant delays of up to four hours” or “blockage of routes halfway through” for many customers. Currently, the average duration of a train journey between the Big Apple and Montreal is already more than 11 hours, if all goes well.
Last April, Amtrak announced with great fanfare that it was bringing back the Adirondack, the Montreal-New York route that had been suspended due to the pandemic. In 2019, this train carried 117,490 passengers.
But the train stalled again since late June, when Canadian National, which owns the tracks Amtrak trains run on, imposed “heat restrictions,” which limit speeds to a range of 10 to 40 miles per hour; In other words approximately 16 to 64 km/h. Result: The journey is considered too long and expensive to continue.
The whole thing actually stems from regulation passed by Transport Canada last year, which requires railway companies to “establish temperature limits which, when reached, lead to speed limits and additional track inspection requirements”. “Everything has been implemented to ensure rail safety and protect infrastructure during periods of extreme heat,” the federal government says.
Not two months
Since then, Amtrak says it has “explored various solutions,” but to no avail. Thus, Adirondack will continue to operate only between New York and Albany for the time being, and then starting July 24, it will offer connections only between New York and Saratoga Springs.
Mr Abrams said the company now plans to restore service between New York and Montreal “in mid-September, when CN is expected to lift its heat restrictions”. “Heat restrictions can be lifted quickly if local temperatures drop, and Amtrak, with the support of our partners, can restore service sooner than expected,” the spokesperson said.
The latter said discussions are ongoing “to develop a long-term solution to allow Amtrak trains to run to and from Montreal next summer.” In other words, we want to avoid a repeat of the situation in 2024. “We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience,” concluded Jason Abrams.
CN, on the other hand, strongly blames Amtrak for the situation, refusing to pay the necessary costs that would allow the latter to reopen. “Amtrak is responsible and has not paid for the maintenance necessary to maintain the track at a level that ensures the fluidity of its service,” maintains its spokesman, Matthew Gaudreault.
According to him, the reality is that Amtrak “refuses to invest in the maintenance and improvement of this section to reduce the impact of severe weather conditions” and it “does not affect a sufficient number of employees on this route. Order to ensure continued service”.