• March 11-17 RGH-NYP-MTR

  • Tell us where you were and what you saw!
Tell us where you were and what you saw!

Moderator: David Benton

  by GG14935
In 1994 when I was 11 and on my first ever Amtrak ride with my father(on the Silver Star from Raleigh, NC to DC)we met some people in the dining car who were traveling from Miami to Montreal. They were changing to the Montrealer in DC for the rest of the trip north. It seemed like a neat trip and I put it on my "things to do". Well 13 years later I finally made the trip north of the border. Unfortunately the Montrealer is gone, no more overnight rides in a 10&6 fom DC to Montreal. No more convenient Star-Montrealer connection in the nations capital. I opted to go with the Carolinian to DC, the Federal to NYP, enjoy a 2-8 AM layover in New York and then catch the Adirondak to Montreal. The return trip used each trains southbound counterpart.


My Dad dropped me off at Amtrak's ex-SR depot in downtown Raleigh sunday morning. The parking lot was full and it looked like about 40-50 people were set to get on train 80. It was a little chilly so most folks stayed in the depot, I stayed on the platform near the usuall boarding area for the coaches so I could win the race for a window seat. Train arrival was 20 minutes late with the typical Carolinian consist: P-42(185),baggage, business class, cafe, four coaches. CSX handled us well and arrival into DC was ontime. The only excitement being a speed restriction near an airport strip(a little north of the Summit DED on the RF&P sub) because it was feared a small plane had gone off the runway near the tracks. I had a McDonalds "dinner" at Union Station and then rode the Metro out to New Carrolton to enjoy some NEC action. While at New Carrolton I saw the southbound Crescent blow by with a wabash heavyweight observation on the rear.


The Federal(Amtrak 66)pulled in ontime but boarding wasnt untill 15 minutes prior to the 10 PM departure time. I killed time in the depot reading and listening to mean explain how he was collecting 17 dollars for a taxi fare home to Martinsburg, WV....I was a little skeptical. I slept most of the way to Penn Station but woke up when we stopped just short of the hudson tubes. We waited for two NJT deadhead moves to past and then moved into the station on the "wrong" main. Arrival in Penn was 10 minutes late. Gotta love Penn Station at 2 in the morning, the waiting rooms are all cloased for cleaning so you can only stand and try not to get hit by a ride on floor buffer. Too pass the time I took an early morning(3:16 AM departure)round trip on LIRR to Ronkonkama and back. Back at Penn I checked at the Amtrak international travel kiosk, they stamped my ticket "CANADA" and put a tag on my bag.


Boarding for the Adirondak was late(8:09 for an 8:15 departure)so the conductors were pleading for everyone to hurry. Passengers bound for Canada who didnt have their ticket stamped were pulled out of line and boarded last. Departure was 15 minutes late, which led to a 6 minute wait at Spuyten Dyvil because we had missed our slot with the Metro North dispatcher. We waited for two inbound commuters before joining the ex-NYC main, also waiting at the interlocking was a southbound Empire Service train. National Geographic picked this as the best train ride in America, the views of the frozen hudson river were spectacular(nice view of a southbound CSX freight across the river too). We made good time unti we got north of Saratoga Springs then CP trackwork nailed us. We had two long waits for tracwork to finish up, one of 40+ minutes south of Plattsburgh waiting for the CP track geometry train. We also had a meet with a CP local lead by a geep still in D&H paint. The trackwork killed our schedule and put us three and a half hours late into the border crossing. Border inspection took only about thirty minutes, I wasnt really grilled. I thought it was interesting that our Amtrak crew seems to stay with the train al the way to Montreal. I assume we get a VIA engineer and our conductors just handle the doors across the border. Arrival into Montreal Central Station was 3 hours and 20 minutes late. Lots of folks in my car were claiming they were going to ask for as refund(yeah, good luck). According to the scanner we brought 141 passengers to Montreal. The crew kept the passengers informed about delays but I don't think PA announcements like "we are waiting on track bullitens" resonates with the standard passenger. As I stepped off I saw an AMT MU trainset to my left before walking up a small spiral staircase to the station. When I saw everything in French inside the station I knew I wasnt in Kan...errr...North Carolina anymore. VIA still had there information booth open so I asked the lady working there for directions to the Hilton Bonaventure. After getting directions(folllow the signs in the city's underground)I got some Canadian cash from an ATM(thanks VIA board)and grabbed a bunch of commuter stations. I got a little turned around underground but some friendly folks pointed me in the right direction. After non stop train riding since Raleigh I was ready for a bed. The next morning I used a city map to find the Lucien L'Allier commuter terminal, it was a pretty easy walk from the Hilton and I saw the old CP Windsor Station and the Montreal Canadiens arena(GO CANES!)on the way. The goal of the day was to watch trains on the CP and CN parralel mains at Beaconsfield. I caught a 9:55 AMT local made up of an F59PHI and several bombardier coaches. I fumbled around with the TVM in the station a little bit before I realized that the smaller machine next to it was for ticket validation. It seems the commuter rail system in Montreal runs with one conductor and the "honor code" system, I had no tickets lifted during my stay. At Beconsfield I saw a westbound CP intermodal and an inbound VIA train from Ottawa but much to my chagrin I realized I left my camera back in my hotel room. So I cut my Beaconsfield visit short and took the next inbound train back to Montreal. I decided to return the next morning and spend the rest of the day sampling VIA. After arrival at Lucien L'Allier I walked to Central Station and used the VIA TVM to buy a roundtrip ticket to Alexandria, ONT(I picked the destination at random). I boarded the the 3:05 Ottawa bound train which consisted of an F40(painted for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics) and three LRC coaches. The seats were kind of small but the big windows were cool, definately an improvement over slits you see the world through on amtubes. The ride was faster then I thought it would be, we seemed to be crusing at up to 100 mph. Alexandria has a nice quaint depot an a rusted passing siding, I snapped pics of two VIA's while there before boarding a 6:43 train(Genesis and 5 coaches) back to Montreal. I must say, while it was only a small samping of VIA it was definately an improvement over Amtrak. When I got on at Montreal a hostess was waiting at each door and gave a freindly "bonjour". Wednesday I rode AMT back to Beconsfield, this time with my camera. The train was made up of double headed ex-Amtrak F40's and some pretty weird looking coaches. The action on CN was non stop, I caught two meets and three VIA's(one with stainless steel cars). CP was kind of dead, I only saw two CP trains(westbound intermodals). After 4 hours at Beconsfield I rode back to the city in order to ride the electrified ex-CN commuter line. Deux-Montagnes was shrouded in a lake effect snow that that made or some cool pictures of the signals at the end of the platform. When I returned to Central Station VIA had the trainset(stainless steel) for the Ocean in the terminal.

Thursday morning I checked out and set out for Central Station early in order to take in that big city station atmosphere. Departure on the southbound Adirondak was ontime at 9:50, on our way to Saint Lambert we met a VIA train with Renaissance cars and a CN freight. The Border crossing was a little adventurous this time. I travel pretty light and the fact that I had just one peice of luggage(a bookbag)apparently raised flags. I was called up to the lounge where they checked my bag, wallet, and jacket. Fortunately everything checked out. We ran thirty minutes late the whole trip to NYP. At Saratoga Springs we passed two CN freights that were end to end, does anybody know what trains these were? Once at NYP it was time to kill time during the dead of night layover again, I took NJT to Linden, NJ and watched a few trains in the freezing rain. Once I returned to Penn I had a subway sub for dinner and read untill the 3 AM departure of 67.

Departure was ontime from Penn, our conductor gave us all a friendly "good morning" as we boarded. Once my ticket was taken it was off to lala land. When I woke up we were pulling into Baltimore. My ticket was to Washington but I got off at BWI and then took MARC to Bowie in order to catch the rush hour action(I opted for here over BWI cause I wanted to see all Amtrak's at speed). The weather was a nightmore. The northeast was getting creamed by a storm that apparently had New York under three feet of snow. In MD it was freezing and raining....HARD. I watched the high speed passenger show for an hour and a half before catching a MARC to Union Station. Flight cancellations had pushed more people onto the trains resulting in a circus at the Amtrak gates. The southbound carolininan was 20 minutes late, a northbound regional from Richmond was also late and getting later according to the constant announcements. The westbound Cardinal was running 1 and a half hours late already. Departure on Amtrak 79 was thirty minutes late, the train was PACKED. I couldnt get a window so I just busied myself with a book to Raleigh. Our conductor constantly appologized for the trains lateness and let us know that "it was a little to early to sstart getting spirits in the cafe car". Arrival at Raleigh was thirty minutes down, didnt lose anymore time....thanks CSX!

It was a fun ride. It was my first time traveling internationally, I was able to get into Canada with a birth certificate and drivers liscense. December 31 you will need a passport for the trip. I think I'm done with long trips in coach though, its just hard to sleep. I'm 6 ft 5 in so I was constantly getting hit by the reclining seat in front of me.

  by David Benton
Thanks for the interesting trip report . I missed taking the Adirondak,in my travels , ill haveto reserve it as a one day maybe . I didnt know the hudson froze , so that was interesting .
It was a long trip to take in coach , perhaps an overnite stop somewhere to break the journey might have been better .

  by CPRTim
Thanks for the great Trip Report. I was looking forward to reading it from your previous questions in the VIA Forum.

I was surprised Amtrak didn’t offer you compensation for a 3 1\2 hour late train. On VIA, in the corridor it’s an automatic 50% credit for future travel when the train is 1 hour late and 100% credit when 4 hours late.

Regarding the train crew north of the border.......Unlike the Maple Leaf which becomes a VIA train at Niagara Falls, the Adirondack (and Cascade to Vancouver) are strictly Amtrak trains while in Canada and the crews run through. There is no VIA involvement. Even when the Montrealer was running, it used CN crews north of St. Albans, not VIA.

Beaconsfield was a great choice! Unlike Dorval where most of the local railfans hang out, Beaconsfield offers trains passing through at speed.

Is this the type of car you saw? (These are former GO Transit cars from Toronto)


Alexandria is located on the former CN Alexandria Subdivision that is now owned by VIA. This line is approximately 65 miles in length from near Coteau to Ottawa and has recently been rebuilt by VIA for high-speed running.

(PS: You should post a link to this Trip Report on the Amtrak Forum.....It’s a lot harder to find the trip reports now that they’ve been sent to the bottom of the forum list!)

  by GG14935
Do the Amtrak crews speak French then? Yup, those were the cars, saw some tri-level and gallery cars there too but didnt ride them. Want to make a return trip, I should have ridden out to St. Jerome to get the trip around the mountain.
  by Ocala Mike
That is a great trip report, GG14935. I have to hand it to you for your chutzpah in taking those wee hours trips on LIRR and in NJ. I would have been fearful of missing my morning connections, especially in that bad weather.

  by CPRTim
GG14935 wrote:Do the Amtrak crews speak French then?
Not really a requirement. As you probably saw, most people are bi-lingual.
GG14935 wrote:Yup, those were the cars, saw some tri-level and gallery cars there too but didnt ride them. Want to make a return trip, I should have ridden out to St. Jerome to get the trip around the mountain.
These are the original GO cars built by Hawker Siddeley in 1967. Ontario Northland Railway also has some of these cars they have rebuilt for use on their “Northlander” service.

A similar car to these were the xCN “Tempo” cars VIA once used on the International between Toronto and Chicago. The “Tempo” cars are now in service on the SkiTrain in Denver.

You would have enjoyed the AMT train to St. Jerome. I was on it in January:


  by Noel Weaver
Interesting reading, glad that you enjoyed your trip.
Noel Weaver