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Vermont to Montreal Passenger Rail Service Within Two Years?

I have had a passion for restoring Canada/USA passenger rail services for as long as I can remember. Having seen cross border trains disappear that I had rode on such as at the Detroit/Windsor and Sarnia/Port Huron borders, I want to support increased reliable passenger rail between Canada and the USA.

No this has nothing to do with high speed but it has all to do with providing options to travel by train.

The former Amtrak train The Montrealer ran from 1972 to 1995. Now a determined effort is being made to extend The Vermonter train to Montreal.  The recent draft 2015 State of Vermont Rail Plan states;

Ever since the change from the Montrealer to the Vermonter, there has been interest among some members of the public and government officials in restoring service to Montreal. Reasons for expanding the Vermonter’s service to Montreal include better integration of Vermont’s economy with the nearby large metropolitan area of Montreal, increased connectivity between Montreal, New England and the Northeast Corridor, and expanded options for travelers. Based on initial estimates expanding the Vermonter to Montreal could greatly increase the Vermonter’s ridership.

Extending the Vermonter to Montreal has been studied most recently as part of the Northern New England Intercity Rail Study (ongoing). This e xtension of service would mean continuing the route of the Vermonter from its terminus in St. Albans 71.4 miles to Montreal. The expanded Vermonter service would continue to operate as a daytime train through Vermont in both directions.

The “local service” option presented in the Northern New England Intercity Rail Study would include trains traveling up to 60 miles per hour. VTrans believes that the infrastructure within Vermont is sufficient for the service extension. Between grants under the High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program (HISPR) and the TIGER VI Discretionary Grant Program, over $90 million has been
spent on the corridor. This includes upgrades to the entire line from the Massachusetts border to the Canadian border. Much of the rest of the extension within Canada would share the same route as the existing Adirondack service and would share the same station in Montreal.

In March 2015 the United States Department of Homeland Security and The Government of Canada signed a preclearance agreement that will make new train service agreements easier by setting up an agreed upon process for border crossing, customs, and other cross-border activities.

While VTrans does not believe that extending the Vermonter to Montreal will require incremental capital investment from Vermont, the service will likely require additional subsidies. Amtrak would need an operating or track agreement with VIA Rail in Canada; baggage, ticketing, and customs infrastructure and agreements must be worked out.

The allocation of other costs such an engine turn, train cleaning, and crew quarters would need to be
determined. For other U.S./Canada routes such as the Adirondack service to Montreal, the Maple Leaf service to Toronto, or the Cascades service to Vancouver, sponsoring agencies in the U.S. subsidize the service into Canada.

Vermont Rail Action is a citizen's group actively engaged in the restoration of this service. They can be reached at:


  1. VIA and Amtrak only know how to cut trains. When is the last time either restored or expanded rail service?

  2. Extending The Vermonter to run back into Montreal, and thereby reinstating The Montrealer is an excellent idea. I've just returned home to England from a holiday in Canada. I flew into Toronto, and then travelled by Via Rail onto Kingston, Montreal and Quebec City. One of the obvious disappointments of the Corridor service, is the lack of through trains from Quebec and Ontario to the U.S. Bringing back the Montrealer will be a big boost for both passenger convenience, and for the local economies concerned. Hopefully one day of course there will be high speed links between Canada and the U.S, for now though this would be a very welcome step in the right direction. I really hope it happens.


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