Restored train service to Montreal chugs closer to reality

Published: Jan. 15, 2018 at 4:11 PM EST
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The return of Vermont’s train service to Montreal chugs closer to becoming a reality, but don’t count on changing your travel plans quite yet.

It took acts of Congress and Canadian parliament, but an effort to reconnect DC to Montreal -- with stops in Vermont -- is back on-track. “I would think no later than 2020,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) when he expects the service to return.

Leahy began fighting to restore passenger rail service between Vermont and Montreal shortly after the Amtrak service came to an end in 1995.

Leahy said its return will mean more than just a convenient travel option. “It’s going to take a while to happen,” he said, “but I think you’re going to see a growth in jobs, a growth in tourism, it’s going to be beneficial all the way around.”

The recently ratified agreement between the U.S. and Canada allows customs agents to work at stops rather than the border itself. That should translate into speedier travel, once the remaining issues delaying the train’s return can be smoothed out.

Track improvements are still needed in Canada, security questions remain, and it’s not clear yet who will pay for new facilities and staff.

Spokespeople for the U.S. Travel Association said it could take several years to work out the details, but the remaining issues are simple compared to earlier challenges. “I think that everybody’s going to work toward a solution as quickly as possible,” said Vice President of Public Affairs Patricia Rojas-Ungár.

In the mean-time, travelers may see other benefits of the new agreement first: like streamlined security where routes are already in place, and new flight options.

Amtrak spokespeople declined to comment on what its administrators think of the new developments, and the timeline ahead.

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