Officials trying to work out track problems
By Neal Burdick
Amtrak once again suspended its “Adirondack” service between New York and Montreal, North Country officials said Monday.
The train had resumed service in April with regional stops in Fort Edward (Lake George), Whitehall, Ticonderoga, Port Henry, Westport and Plattsburgh. Its pandemic pause of service lasted three years.
The reason given for this curtailment involves track conditions near Montreal, local officials said. They said Amtrak suspects the rails could warp under the weight of fast-moving trains at temperatures exceeding 86 degrees, forcing trains to run at 10 mph. The situation would push crews over their federally mandated workday limit.
Amtrak’s Jason Abrams provided a terse notice to the Explorer: “Amtrak rail partner Canadian National (CN) has implemented reduced speed regulations in Canada due to heat, impacting the Amtrak Adirondack route. Trains 68 and 69 will originate and terminate in Albany, NY until further notice.”
Local officials expressed frustration at the stoppage, citing figures indicating the service was just beginning to regain patronage. “One would have thought that three years of shutdown provided ample time to address any needs and concerns,” said Garry Douglas, president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce. Douglas added that numerous meetings were underway to resolve the matter.
“I am disappointed,” said Assemblyman Billy Jones. “We were just getting back to normalcy at our borders and now it feels like we are moving backwards.”
Douglas said the offices of Sen. Charles Schumer and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik are involved in trying to resolve the issue.
Bruce Becker, a spokesman for the Empire State Rail Passengers Association, said Amtrak put out an advisory last week stating it was suspending service north of Albany. He said Canadian National is requiring slower speeds on its track because of high temperatures, which would result in greatly reduced speed limits along about 25 miles of track. The suspension is through at least Sunday, he said.
James M. Odato contributed to this report.
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