• Amtrak considers extending Wolverine line from Chicago to Toronto

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

  by rcthompson04
Arlington wrote: Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:54 am Toronto-Windsor currently has 4 trains per day, with running time of about 4h to 4h30
https://www.viarail.ca/sites/all/files/ ... etable.pdf
It is a pretty good schedule considering the travel time by car with 7 stops.

I wonder if you could do Customs/Immigration at Detroit beforehand and save some serious time.
  by Tadman
This whole idea is "how to make a simple idea very expensive and less workable". Of course this is how they want to do it.

Option A: Run interline trains Chicago-Detroit-Toronto, with handoffs NS-Amtrak-CN. 12 hours worth of problems, and a problem on an eastbound train on NS near Chicago means a late train into Detroit and a really really late train into Toronto. Customs is a long and involved process where the train is stopped at the border.

Option B: interline ticketing, perhaps with a common Detroit station. If the westbound Wolverine hits a snag in East Chicago, the passengers east of Detroit aren't penalized. The other passengers from west of Detroit catch the next train eastbound out of Detroit. Customs is handled at Detroit similar to Vancouver. No trains are stopped and no mains blocked.
  by NIMBYkiller
Tadman, this option B is EXACTLY what I've been advocating for, a connecting service at Detroit with immigration performed at the station. Far less risky operationally, better OTP, etc.
  by jsmyers
Tadman and NIMBYk:

I agree. A transfer at Michigan Central is just what these trains need. It would help increase ridership on the east end of the Wolverine and the West end of the VIA rail service. It would help provide a critical mass for earlier eastbound trains to Detroit and later westbound trains from Detroit.
  by CHTT1
OK, so here's an idea. Any Detroit-Toronto service through the rail tunnel would require a new Windsor station for VIA, plus the total reconstruction of what is now an industrial track between the CP and the VIA routes.
How about a dedicated bus from Detroit (either the current Amtrak station or a revitalized MC station) to the VIA Windsor station. Immigration and customs are taken care of at the existing Detroit-Windsor road tunnel locations. These station already handle the transit tunnel buses and I imagine any other charter buses that cross the border. No major construction projects for Amtrak, VIA or the Canadian and U.S. governments. Tunnel transfer probably a pain, but the whole thing could probably be done in an hour or slightly more.
  by Greg Moore
Anytime you have a transfer, let alone two, and onto/off a bus, you're going to reduce the ridership. People don't want to have to deal with that.

I think Amtrak/VIA are better off simply figuring out how to negotiate the tunnel.

Now, that said, it got me thinking that once this service is operational, Amtrak/VIA might as well start looking at Detroit/Buffalo service.
Again, the more trains you can spread your fixed costs (stations, people, etc.) against, the better.

Heck, as much as I loved the LSL for getting to Ann Arbor, if I could have gone straight through Canada, I'd have done that!
  by Arlington
Michigan Central at the heart of a Ford R&D complex is going to be very powerful. It isn't clear to me whether the service needs to be through-operated (Toronto-Chicago) or just end-to-end connections.
  by Tadman
I agree there are two sides to the bus/train connection issues.

Clearly the bus would be cheaper. But the two seat changes is a PITA and then opens the bus riders to the possibility of clearing customs at the bridge or tunnel with everybody else rather than the train station. Especially as a business class rider, the priority customs is a real benefit.

Perhaps a dedicated bus with some special customs arrangement and interline ticketing is a good transition or pilot program, with trains to MCS to follow in a year if the bus works even a bit. The bus ride wouldn't be much longer than the connection at a really large airport, which sometimes requires a bus ride, too.
Greg Moore wrote: Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:26 pm Now, that said, it got me thinking that once this service is operational, Amtrak/VIA might as well start looking at Detroit/Buffalo service......
Detroit to Buffalo would be great but nearly the entire former New York Central/Penn Central route across southern Ontario (via St. Thomas..15 miles south of London) is now abandoned and track removed. In the 1970’s….this was the route of Amtrak’s ‘Empire State Express’ (later renamed the Niagara Rainbow…..here at St. Thomas in Nov 1977:)



Today the service would have to operate via Bayview (Hamilton/Aldershot) and currently a New York-Buffalo-Aldershot-Windsor (Detroit) trip is possible. The Maple Leaf arrives in Aldershot at 7:04pm and the train to Windsor leaves at 8:23pm..…arriving in Windsor at 11:44pm. Eastbound to Buffalo and New York the Maple Leaf misses the first train from Windsor at Aldershot by a half-hour but this connection has been available in the past so with some tweaking of schedules.....it could be again.


Up until Amtrak Day….CN provided a bus that looped through downtown Detroit connecting with their trains at Windsor (Table 2 (1969) below ) Prior to that….through cars including a Detroit-Toronto Sleeper would be ferried across the river and then attached to CN trains at Windsor for Toronto.

  by Arlington
To re-launch Buffalo Detroit via Canada, there's no need to re-activate anything: VIA has everything it needs to operate Niagara-Windsor, including the needed legs at a junction near Hamilton ON.

You can buy a ticket today from Niagara to Windsor
- from Aldershot to Windsor (as part of Toronto-Windsor service).
- from Niagara ON to Aldershot ON