All aboard: Amtrak’s Adirondack Line returns

An Amtrak train pulls into the City of Plattsburgh train station Monday, April 3, for the first new run of the Adirondack Line rail line since 2020. The rail line, which travels from New York City to Montreal, was initially suspended at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March of 2020, when severe restrictions were put on border crossings with Canada. (Photo provided — Ben Rowe/Press Republican)

PLATTSBURGH — The return of Amtrak’s Adirondack Line was a welcome sight for many municipalities Monday.

The rail line, which travels from New York City to Montreal, was initially suspended at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020, when severe restrictions were put on border crossings with Canada.

Last month, it was announced that, after several months of state and local officials advocating for the line’s restoration, it would officially return to operation in early April.

Finally, Monday, it did.

“We’re back on track”

As the first train rolled into Plattsburgh station Monday afternoon, it was greeted by dozens of local officials and members of the public who were eager to see the line up and running again.

“Reunited and it feels so good,” North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas said to the crowd of people at the Plattsburgh station.

“Where things move is where prosperity occurs, we’ve said that for years, and that certainly is true in everything … It’s been three years, a three-years gap we’ve been separated by rail, but we’re back on track and separated no more.”

As an avid Amtrak traveler, Douglas says he’ll now be taking advantage of the newly restored service next month and urges the community to use it as well.

“All of you, use the train as much as you can,” he said.

“I think we’re gonna see strong growth on the service now that it’s back. We look forward to working with all of you and with Amtrak on promoting maximum use of this service going forward … onward and upward and on track.”

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) said the Adirondack Line’s restoration will now better connect tourists and Canadians to the North Country.

“The Adirondack Line is a critical means of transportation for families in Upstate New York and the North Country, and our small businesses rely on it to connect tourists to our region, which is why I have worked tirelessly to hold Amtrak’s feet to the fire to commit to resuming its service,” Stefanik said.

“Today, I witnessed this result in action, and I look forward to the Adirondack Line continuing to provide New York families with transportation and connect tourists and our Canadian neighbors to the Adirondacks for years to come.”

Port Henry stop

Earlier in the day, Amtrak was also welcomed back to Port Henry’s rail station, where another celebratory event was held.

“This is great news for our community,” Moriah Town Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said.

“The Port Henry Station is the oldest on the entire line, and also on the Historic Register. This station is very busy year round and it will be great to reopen once again.”

Stefanik told the media before Monday’s event in Plattsburgh that officials had faced several challenges in getting the line restored.

She said she is happy to see it opened, but hoped it would have happened sooner than April.

“Initially, at the start of COVID, as you recall, so much was shut down and we’ve had to incrementally work as quickly as possible,” Stefanik said.

“Whether it’s reopening the northern border, whether it’s getting rid of some of those app requirements that were signed in the ArriveCAN app, this was also staffing challenges,” she added. “So as you go to small businesses, manufacturers, any organization, one of the top concerns I hear is staffing. That was the case for Amtrak as well, making sure that they had appropriate staffing to get it up and running.”

“Great things going on”

The president of Amtrak, Roger Harris, also announced during the celebratory event that Amtrak has ordered 86 new trains to help replace those operating on the Adirondack service line later this decade.

“It’s great to be here and to enjoy the restoration of service … between New York and Montreal. (A) very important economic action for the North Country, for inbound tourism, for commerce in general and also just very important to restoring mobility to a rural community,” Harris said.

“A lot of great things going on.”

City of Plattsburgh Mayor Chris Rosenquest told the crowd that, “The return of Amtrak really does put the City of Plattsburgh, and the greater Plattsburgh region, into a true multimodal station for the North Country.”

“A lot of our students that come up for SUNY, they use Amtrak as a transportation mechanism to come up from the south and then also our travelers from Montreal who use Amtrak to come down and travel out, as well as leverage our airport,” Rosenquest said.

“So thank you for all the hard work that you all put into this.”

Similarly, Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman happily welcomed the line’s return by saying, “We’re back on track.”

Vital and scenic

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, who worked alongside Congresswoman Stefanik and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in getting the Adirondack Line restored, said he was “thrilled” the service was finally available to travelers.

“All aboard the Amtrak Adirondack Line. From Penn Station to Poughkeepsie to Plattsburgh and all the way up to Montreal, I am thrilled to see the first train leaving the station of this vital economic engine for Upstate New York,” Schumer said in a statement.

“Whether it is the pristine landscapes of the Hudson Valley, the waters of Lake Champlain, or the picturesque downtowns of so many North Country communities, the Amtrak Adirondack Line helps residents, businesses, and tourists connect to some of the most beautiful parts of the Empire State,” he added. “I am proud to have helped get restoration of this vital service back on track to reconnect New Yorkers to this beloved, vital and scenic rail line.”


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