Amtrak, CN reach agreement on Adirondack railroad line

Local politicians and tourism officials are applauding an agreement reached Friday by Amtrak and Canadian National (CN) Railway — related to service issues between Rouses Point and Montreal — that would prevent long-term shutdowns of the Adirondack Line, like the one experienced last summer.

“In an agreement signed today, Amtrak will make a payment to CN and CN has agreed to use the settlement payment to undertake track work on its Rouses Point Subdivision for Amtrak’s benefit,” Amtrak and CN said in a joint statement. “This track work will help mitigate, but not eliminate, heat slow order speed limits going forward. CN has been planning the work for several months and will endeavor to make the necessary work expeditiously and safely in 2024.”

Last summer, a few months after the Adirondack service resumed after being shut down for three years due to the coronavirus pandemic, the line from Albany to Montreal was suspended from late June to early September, the peak travel season for tourists coming in and out of the North Country between New York City and Montreal. Amtrak said CN Railway 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.

“Adirondack service may be modified on a short-term basis in the coming weeks to ensure completion of the track work, which will help increase reliability of the service during summer months this year, and in the future,” the joint statement continued. “Amtrak and CN appreciate the interest of local stakeholders and the leadership of the New York Congressional Delegation in helping to resolve this matter.”

The Adirondack Line from Saratoga Springs to Montreal will be suspended for six weeks starting Monday for repairs to the rail line, but this new contract is expected to make sure service resumes in late June.

“While the journey to a favorable conclusion has seemed longer than the railway itself, we welcome the finalization of an agreement between Amtrak and CN that will avoid another summer long shutdown,” North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas said in a statement. “That means service will be back for most of the summer and can resume the increase in ridership we were seeing before these suspensions. We thank our federal representatives and especially Congresswoman Stefanik for the persistent pursuit of this needed agreement and commitment.”

Stefanik distributed a press release Friday after the agreement was reached.

“I am proud to announce that following my advocacy, Amtrak and CN have reached an agreement that will allow them to continue serving Upstate New York and North Country communities that rely on the Adirondack Line for transportation,” Stefanik said in a statement. “This result will allow tourism to flourish through the summer months, strengthening economic development in the region and our partnership with our Canadian neighbors.”

Assemblyman Billy Jones, D- Chateaugay Lake, also issued a statement:

“The Adirondack Train that runs between New York City and Montreal is an important mode of transportation in the North Country for residents and visitors alike,” he said. “The closures in past years have been detrimental to our communities and I am pleased that they are finally addressing this issue so that we can keep the train operating in the future.”

As did state Sen. Dan Stec, R-Queensbury:

“I’m pleased to see an agreement be reached to make significant upgrades to this essential rail service. Once these ongoing repairs are completed, riders will enjoy a much better experience,” he said.

In September 2023, Stefanik sent a letter to Amtrak and CN demanding that they provide a plan of action to avoid a future summer stoppage of the Adirondack Line. Stefanik said that in the past 10 months, her office has been engaged with both railway organizations to keep the Adirondack Line open and “fully functional.”

The Adirondack Line includes stops in Plattsburgh, Ticonderoga, Port Kent, Port Henry and Westport. It is common for some downstate New York visitors to take the train to Westport and arrange vehicle transportation from there to the Tri-Lakes region.


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