• Montreal - Portland passenger service, past and future

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England

Moderators: MEC407, NHN503

  by gokeefe
In another topic I happened to ask a question about Grand Trunk Railway service between Montreal & Portland. One of the responses had the link below posted to it showing GTR Train #16/17 which served Portland until the passenger service shutdown. Was this a named train? If not did it even have a 'nickname' or some other type of reference that people occasionally referred to it? It seems unusual for a train of its importance not to be named, but perhaps understandable considering the GTR Main Line from Portland to Montreal was by that time almost a secondary branch to the railroad.

Link to GTR Timetable showing Train #16/17 serving Montreal - Portland. GTR Train #14/15 was the named International Limited.


Link to "International Limited" wiki:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internatio ... ger_train)
  by TomNelligan
In the 1950s timeframe it was a fairly slow, short local... nothing fancy. Notice from that timetable that it made almost every stop on a nearly 300-mile route. Portland-Montreal was not a particularly important passenger line by then, unlike Boston-Montreal, which in the mid-1950s still had daytime and overnight trains on two different routes (B&M/CV/CN and B&M/CP).
  by gokeefe
Mr. Nelligan,
If this train were run as Montreal - Sherbrooke - Bethel - Lewiston - Portland stops only (w/seasonal Old Orchard Beach) do you think it would be viable and timely enough to generate large amounts of traffic? Would Berlin, NH or Island Pond VT stops be useful?
  by TomNelligan
Even Boston-Montreal (a much bigger potential travel market than Portland-Montreal) currently supports only a few Vermont Transit buses and small-aircraft flights a day, with no direct rail passenger service since the mid-1960s. While the Grand Trunk/St. Lawrence & Atlantic route certainly has some potential for winter and summer tourist traffic, I believe there is no way the enormous cost of restoring the track to passenger train speeds could be justified by the year-round market, and that's before you even consider equipment and ongoing operating costs.
  by gokeefe
Mr. Nelligan,

You mentioned restoring the track to be suitable for passenger speeds. What is the condition of the STL track? I was under the impression it was in a state of good repair and at least up to Class II standards with no slow orders or perhaps Class III standards.
  by TomNelligan
I don't know the current speed limits on the StL&A -- I'm sure someone else here does -- but I'd be surprised if as a freight-only shortline it could currently accomodate the 60 mph running that would be necessary for practical passenger train operation over a 300-mile route. The track north of the border is an issue too. Class II track is only 25 mph for freight and 30 mph for passengers... that doesn't work for anything but short excursion service.

I believe that as a practical matter, any passenger service restorations in Maine in the forseeable future will involve the MEC lines northeast from Portland, not the StL&A. That would produce the greatest benefit for tax money spent, assuming there's any left to spend after the current recession.
  by gokeefe
Mr. Nelligan,

I agree quite strongly with the idea that the first priority for spending on rail infrastructure in Maine should be on former MEC lines north of Brunswick. There has been some discussion on a service restoration of some kind on the Mountain Division. I strongly defended the idea that Central Maine needed service first.

Link to Mountain Division reactivation post:

http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopi ... 26&t=51363
  by NaugMOW
The St. Lawrence & Atlantic track was class III in the early 90's when they were running the Portland-Bethel 'Silver Bullet' ski trains.
  by shadyjay
gokeefe wrote:Where/what did they use for the passenger consist equipment?
The stainless steel cars for the Sunday River Silver Bullet Ski Train (winter) / Sugarbush Express (summer) are now owned by Vermont Rail System and are part of VTRS' excursion fleet. When I rode their Bellows Falls-Rutland trip, these cars were in use, and you could make out the Sunday River logo in the cars' vestibule.
  by TomNelligan
shadyjay wrote:The stainless steel cars for the Sunday River Silver Bullet Ski Train (winter) / Sugarbush Express (summer) are now owned by Vermont Rail System and are part of VTRS' excursion fleet.
...and most or maybe all of them are of Santa Fe ancestry, modified with openable windows and now lettered for the Green Mountain Railroad. I rode them in August on one of the weekend excursions out of Burlington, a very nice little ride but a far cry from their previous high speed, long distance life out west.
  by MEC407
I was under the impression that SLR's mainline was still mostly 40 MPH for freight. And I believe it is mostly 115LB welded rail. It might need a tie job and some extra ballast in some spots but I don't think we'd be looking at a really major rehab to get it into shape for 60 MPH passenger trains.

If the state really wanted to do some kind of Portland-Montreal service, personally I'd rather see them spend a few million on the SLR than spend many tens of millions on the Mountain Division. And going to Montreal via the SLR would have the added benefit of bringing passenger rail service to Auburn, which is surely a much bigger market than any of the little towns between Portland and Fryeburg on the Mountain Division.
  by gokeefe
Ah hah...I knew it...MEC 407 works for Maine DOT, that Auburn line was practically taken off the Talking Points Memo! Quite frankly I'm surprised no one has said that yet about me (I don't).

Hey, it's Friday and I've had a long week. :-D

I agree quite strongly as well. If you're going to put money in rail passenger service to Maine you might as well invest in areas besides just Portland.
  by Petero4653
I have some questions about the ski train, I spent Thanksgiving in Bethel and walked along Railroad Road, which follows the line for a short distance. The raised platform is still there along with a couple of loading ramps on two sidings.

What year was the ski train discontinued?
What was the shedule and running time from Portland?

Thanks, Peter.
  by Dick H
There was an article in the Boston Globe on December 2, 1993 about the ski train. However, to access the article, you have to join the "High Beam Encyclopedia", a pay site. Run this URL for the item:

http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1P2-8256298.html Item at the top of the page. I did not find anything else on Google or Wikipedia.

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