Un Train à Montreal Peut-Etre?
It was probably 20 years ago, perhaps even more, when I rode an Amtrak train called The Montrealer, from New York up to Montreal. I remember the trip particularly because it was an overnight ride and I, in my sleeping car roomette, was awakened in the middle of the night by a series of jerks and bumps.
I had a scanner with me on that trip and turned it on in time to hear the conductors talking to the engineer. They were trying to extract an old mattress from beneath the locomotive. It and an old refrigerator had been put on the tracks by a couple of brain-dead individuals. After a few minutes, the mattress was removed and we were on our way again.
Alas, the Montrealer is no more. Not many years after that incident it was renamed The Vermonter and became a daily all coach train operating pretty much in daylight hours. It’s a very scenic ride, especially in the Fall, originating in Washington, DC, and terminating at St. Albans, Vermont (photo above). Start to finish, it’s a little more than a 13-hour ride.
However, for a number of months now, a grassroots movement has been actively pressing for a return of the service to Montreal. And why not? It’s only about another 65 miles from St. Albans. Of course, things are never that simple. For one thing, it would mean additional immigration and customs personnel of both sides of the border and the Canadians have been loath to provide those services. That was the case when a second daily train from Seattle to Vancouver was proposed, and it took cries of outrage from business and tourism interests in Vancouver to bring the Canadian government around.
This is one more instance when pressure for new or expanded passenger train service has originated from the public. That’s encouraging because the politicians—the savvy ones, anyway—are very sensitive to wishes of the general public that have the potential of developing into a movement. It’s early, but this has real potential, especially because Canadian officials have reacted positively to the first overtures. We shall see.