Amtrak Vermonter (Montreal Greenfield Boston CT River Line)

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Amtrak Vermonter (Montreal Greenfield Boston CT River Line)

Postby cougar3676 » Wed Mar 23, 2005 7:54 pm

My memory is a little foggy, but didn't the Montrealer use to run straight up the Connecticut River line from Springfield through Holyoke/Northampton instead of its current route over NECR? I seem to remember hearing about it being re routed because Guilford didn't take care of its tracks???
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Postby SnoozerZ49 » Wed Mar 23, 2005 8:35 pm

Yes, you are correct. The traditional route for Montreal service was always the B&M's Conn River Route out of Springfield, up the valley to Greenfield and beyond. The first reroute of the train after the Guilford fall out was via New London CT and an all CV routing to East Alburgh, VT.

When the Vermonter was instituted as a day train the service was routed via Conrail and the NECR at Palmer. It is a shame that the added time to run to Palmer and up the NECR does little to help the train. There are some decent loadings at Amherst but the main population centers along the old B&M are missed. Passengers are also confuces by the long trip from Springfield to Amherst via the current routing. "How come it takes so long?"
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Postby Noel Weaver » Thu Mar 24, 2005 1:34 am

SnoozerZ49 wrote:Yes, you are correct. The traditional route for Montreal service was always the B&M's Conn River Route out of Springfield, up the valley to Greenfield and beyond. The first reroute of the train after the Guilford fall out was via New London CT and an all CV routing to East Alburgh, VT.

When the Vermonter was instituted as a day train the service was routed via Conrail and the NECR at Palmer. It is a shame that the added time to run to Palmer and up the NECR does little to help the train. There are some decent loadings at Amherst but the main population centers along the old B&M are missed. Passengers are also confuces by the long trip from Springfield to Amherst via the current routing. "How come it takes so long?"


The reason that it takes so long to get between Springfield and Amherst is
because at Palmer the train has to reverse direction. The engine crew
after stopping the train has to set up the brakes and cut out the controls
on the head end and walk to the other end and set up the controls there.
After that has been done, a brake test has to be performed before the
train can proceed. It all requires time.
In my opinion, it would be better if this particular train ran via New London
and up from there as this reverse move and loss of time would not be
there. The south end of the NEC is in reasonable shape and a bus
connection to Amherst could take care of the passengers from Springfield.
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Postby RRBUFF » Thu Mar 24, 2005 9:32 am

There was news this morning on the Bangor Maine TV 2 that there may be a new Portland Montreal service starting this fall over the SLRR. Not an Amtrak train but a private operator.
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Postby NRGeep » Thu Mar 24, 2005 12:00 pm

Seems the Montrealer also had a Boston connection via the old Cheshire Branch until at least the early 50's. In present times it would be great and probably increase ridership if the Vermonter went all the way to Montreal.
I think there was some kind of conflict with the Canadian unions which hastened the termination of Montreal service yet the Adirondak somehow gets around that.
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Postby Noel Weaver » Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:37 am

NRGeep wrote:Seems the Montrealer also had a Boston connection via the old Cheshire Branch until at least the early 50's. In present times it would be great and probably increase ridership if the Vermonter went all the way to Montreal.
I think there was some kind of conflict with the Canadian unions which hastened the termination of Montreal service yet the Adirondak somehow gets around that.


I don't think it was the unions but it was the high cost of servicing and
turning the train at Montreal.
I agree that the Vermonter should be extended to Montreal. It should be
operated by Amtrak crews just like the Adirondack is.
The State of Vermont probably feels that there would not be enough
increase in revenue to offset the increase in operating costs and they are
probably right.
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Postby dcm74 » Fri Mar 25, 2005 9:34 am

I don't think it was the unions but it was the high cost of servicing and
turning the train at Montreal.
I agree that the Vermonter should be extended to Montreal. It should be
operated by Amtrak crews just like the Adirondack is.
The State of Vermont probably feels that there would not be enough
increase in revenue to offset the increase in operating costs and they are
probably right.
Noel Weaver


It was also partially a union issue. Canadian National was not an Amtrak member but just a contracting railroad. An entire CN crew was required to operate the train between Montreal and St. Albans. I would assume the CN unions would insist on this as a way of preserving jobs. The Amtrak crew deadheaded between the two stations.
There was also an issue of cost of maintaining sleeper service. The problem now is that if you go to Vermont you arrive mid to late afternoon and depart in the morning. This means two nights lodging for what is basically a one day visit.
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Postby Noel Weaver » Fri Mar 25, 2005 5:28 pm

dcm74 wrote:
I don't think it was the unions but it was the high cost of servicing and
turning the train at Montreal.
I agree that the Vermonter should be extended to Montreal. It should be
operated by Amtrak crews just like the Adirondack is.
The State of Vermont probably feels that there would not be enough
increase in revenue to offset the increase in operating costs and they are
probably right.
Noel Weaver


It was also partially a union issue. Canadian National was not an Amtrak member but just a contracting railroad. An entire CN crew was required to operate the train between Montreal and St. Albans. I would assume the CN unions would insist on this as a way of preserving jobs. The Amtrak crew deadheaded between the two stations.
There was also an issue of cost of maintaining sleeper service. The problem now is that if you go to Vermont you arrive mid to late afternoon and depart in the morning. This means two nights lodging for what is basically a one day visit.


The crews on 60 and 61 (The Montrealer) ran between New Haven and
Palmer, changed at Palmer and the second crew ran between Palmer and
St. Albans. They did NOT run to Montreal. They might have ridden on
their own to Montreal but they were not paid to do that.
I don't buy your argument that the CN unions required it as the
Adirondack runs on CN tracks between Rouses Point and Montreal and it
runs with an Amtrak crew operating between Albany and Montreal.
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Postby dcm74 » Sat Mar 26, 2005 8:35 am

I don't buy your argument that the CN unions required it as the
Adirondack runs on CN tracks between Rouses Point and Montreal and it
runs with an Amtrak crew operating between Albany and Montreal.
Noel Weaver


The Adirondack ran on the tracks og D&H subsidiary Napierville Junction from its inception to the mid 90's and entered Windsor Station. It later switched to the CN trackage so it could move to Central Station.
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Postby SnoozerZ49 » Sat Apr 30, 2005 7:15 pm

No, it wasn't a union "Problem" on the Montrealer. Union obligations are contractual in nature. Fulfilling the agreement is not a "problem". In the case of the Amtrak crews, to my knowledge they did not dead head to Montreal ( unless they were looking for some activity on St. Catherine St). Crew were put up either in a bunk house in the CV engine terminal or the famous Cadillac Motel in St. Albans. The hours of service rest was taken there not Montreal.

The importance of today's Vermonter is its ability to provide a single seat service from many Vermont points to NYC, Phila, Balti and Wash.
If you have a day to spare it really is a great way to travel.

All the old B&M lines that funneled passenger trains to Montreal are long gone now. The Cheshire route which included a Rutland routing, The B.C.&M. route through Woodsville was the first to go and the old Northern Railroad is not operated although I am told the right of way does still exist for future use. The only "practical" routings that could exist are via South Station out CSX to Palmer and north on the NECR or out of North Station out the Fitchburg to Miller's Falls where a connectoin could be rebuilt to the NECR. I'm not holding my breath for either of those routings though. I would think that an overnight train might suceed but a day light train would seem to take forever and wouldn't meet the needs of today's fast passed travelers.
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Route of Vermonter

Postby CNJ » Mon Jun 12, 2006 10:10 pm

Have they ever given any thought of restoring the route of the Vermonter to the original route of the Montrealer/Washingtonian?

Would the switch back to the original routing (provided the necessary track upgrades are made) improve timliness of the train?

Your opinion(s)?
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Postby Noel Weaver » Tue Jun 13, 2006 1:19 am

I have my doubts if the original route of the "Bootlegger" will be restored
as it is owned by Guilford and they don't run too much over some of it.
The running time would definately be shorter on this run if the train could
run over the B. & M. north out of Springfield because they would not have
to deal with CSX and deal with the time consuming reverse at Palmer.
I have to wonder whether the business for points north of Springfield that
this train does between New Haven and Springfield makes it worth while
to run this train via Springfield as it would be a longer but more direct
route if they could just run it up the Shore Line to New London and use
the direct connection to the New England Central and just go north from
there up to Brattleboro. I would suspect that the NEC may need a little bit
of work between New London and Palmer but a lot of work was done on
that line in the 1980's when Amtrak was using that portion for the "Boot".
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Postby shadyjay » Tue Jun 13, 2006 6:13 am

Noone more than me would love to see the Vermonter restored to the ex-B&M Conn River Line in Massachusetts. I take the Vermonter usually at least once every other month (sometimes more) and would take it even more if the trip through Mass was shorter.

Unfortunetly, as long as that line is still owned by Pan-Am/GRS, then I don't see much hope for it as a passenger line. But if Pan-Am were to get rid of it.... oh the possibilities. We can all dream/hope...

-Jay H.
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Postby TomNelligan » Tue Jun 13, 2006 8:05 am

I agree that a restoration of the original Montrealer route through Massachusetts would be nice and would potentially cut running time to Vermont, but it's unlikely. The Guilford-owned portion of the Boston & Maine's Connecticut River Line between Springfield and East Northfield, Mass., (where the ex-CV Southern Division, now New England Central, joins it) has little freight traffic and is largely 10 mph track these days. It would require a huge amount of money to restore it to passenger speeds after 20 years. For one train a day, that's probably not a justified expenditure when Amtrak is so short of money.
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Postby RichM » Tue Jun 13, 2006 8:37 am

Why would it have to be an Amtrak purchase? Why couldn't the Peoples Republic of Massachusetts buy it? Better still, why couldn't Massachuesetts condemn it and take it over via the Supreme Court ruling on eminent domain? If the market truly exists for this service...
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