Larry Rulison, Times Union
On April 3, a Monday, Amtrak is planning to re-launch its beloved Adirondack route that carries passengers from New York City to Montreal. The 10-hour, 380-mile trip includes some of the best scenery on the Amtrak network, especially during the fall during leaf-peeping season.
The Adirondack route is one of Amtrak’s oldest, dating back to the 1970s. The portion of service that goes from Rensselaer to Montreal, with stops in Saratoga Springs, Fort Edward, Whitehall, Ticonderoga, Port Henry, Westport, Port Kent, Plattsburgh and Rouses Point is subsidized by New York state and the Department of Transportation.
“We’ve been working on that date for a very long time,” Ray Hessinger, director of freight and passenger rail for the state Department of Transportation. He was attending the annual Empire State Passengers Association meeting held Saturday in Schenectady at the Doubletree hotel. “It’s been on my desk for months.”
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Speakers at Saturday’s event noted, however, that the rail line that Amtrak uses between Rouses Point and Montreal has deteriorated so much since the pandemic that the trip takes three hours to complete – much longer than would normally be expected – since the trains have to travel more slowly.
Reopening of the once-per-day Adirondack route not only opens up transportation and tourism opportunities for Adirondack Park and North Country residents, but it also relieves congestion on Amtrak’s other routes in New York state since it provides an additional train in the mornings to Albany from New York City.
U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, a Democrat who represents Albany, Schenectady and Saratoga Springs, spoke at the conference and pushed the importance of rail service to the upstate economy, especially in hard-to-reach parts of upstate toward the Canadian border.
“We need to put pressure on the system,” Tonko said. “And do what is right (for the public) and not necessarily what is being drive by the rail industry.”
Carl Fowler, a long-time rail advocate who has operated rail tours in northern New York, says tourism has suffered with the lack on Amtrak service.
“We definitely need it back,” Fowler said.
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