I haven't ridden The Adirondack in ten years and from these exchanges and from speaking with other people, it is clear that not much has changed.
The biggest delay of all is the stop at Albany. The longest crew change I've ever sat through. In the days of the Turboliner service, the tank was topped off from a truck, the snack bar was replenished, but never adequately to cover the entire ride. Is that train waiting for a connector from Buffalo or Boston, or why is the delay so long coming and going?
As for the Customs delay, I've been on that train and seen some pretty seedy people get the lock-stock-and-barrel treatment. In 1997, I saw several well-dressed Saudi and Pakistani nationals taken off the train by the Canadians at LaColle, never to be seen again.
Screening people is a problem because if you want to turn them back, you don't want to deal with them 40-60 miles past the border and have to worry about the logistics of getting them around if the team decides to deny a person or persons entry. It's a sticky issue.
Look at how US bound air passengers are handled at Dorval; you are passed through US Customs & Immigration BEFORE you board the flight. That way, if there is a problem and someone is denied entry, they're still on Canadian soil. If the traveller is denied entry to the US upon arrival, it is the responsibility of the AIRLINE to get the person back to the point of origin.
In the case of people being taken off the train at LaColle, I have heard of them being reassured that if allowed into Canada, transport to Central Station Montreal would be provided. I don't know if Immigration Canada or AMTRAK pays for that ride, but since the person has paid for passage, I know they don't shell out any additional. If they were NOT allowed into Canada, I assume they would have a choice of their own means, or Amtrak putting them up in a Motel in Rouses Point and having a ride back to New York the next day. Anybody know about that for sure?
I always wondered why Canadians don't board the train at Plattsburgh and begin processing people between there and LaColle.
Speeds? I'm still waiting for Canadian Pacific to do something about that. I remember under D&H, there was GRASS growing between the rails, like abandoned trackage in a meadow. I remember several times between 1977 and 1997, having to back up into a siding to allow a freight to pass.
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