Amtrak service through North Country to start up again

State leaders call for rail operators to divulge plan to avoid future shutdowns

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)

Amtrak is again resuming train service on the Adirondack line through the North Country, with a tentative start date set for Monday, Sept. 11.

The rails between New York City and Montreal have been closed since late June, after only being open for three months following a nearly three-year shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Throughout the summer, trains from New York City ended in Albany, while stations in Plattsburgh, Ticonderoga, Port Kent, Westport and Port Henry and did not get service.

When service abruptly ended in June, Amtrak said CN Rail — also known as the Canadian National Railway Company, which maintains the tracks — had put speed regulations reducing travel to 10 mph on lines around Montreal because of high temperatures over 86 degrees potentially warping rails under the weight of higher-speed train travel.

State Assemblyman Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay Lake, said in a statement on Friday that he was glad to hear the news of service resuming, but added that he wants CN Rail and Amtrak to release long-term plans to make the necessary fixes to the tracks, “so that this doesn’t happen again next year.”

What these fixes would need to be is a mystery to him, he told the Enterprise.

“We don’t even know why they were shut down,” he said.

The information about the temperature being above 86 degrees was “baffling” to him.

North Country Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Garry Douglas echoed Jones’ call for information.

“We urgently need for Amtrak and CN Rail to define the track improvements needed and how and when they will be undertaken so we can hopefully avoid future summer stoppages,” he said in an email on Friday.

He said he is working with U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, and senators Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, as well as state officials in calling for more information.

Jones said he’s certain the train service shutdown has had a negative impact on the North Country this summer.

People haven’t been able to take the train to big cities like Montreal or Albany. Tourists and business people depend on this, he said. Either for people leaving the North Country or for people coming in.

“It can’t not have an effect,” he said.

In a statement, state Sen. Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, said he was pleased to hear the news of service resuming: “The Adirondack Line is a crucial resource for residents and visitors alike, and keeping it open is important for our economy and quality of life.”


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