Adirondack Line slated for spring return

Nov. 20—PLATTSBURGH — Amtrak's Adirondack Line is presumed to return to service in the spring.

The rail line, which would travel from New York City to Montreal and make local stops in Plattsburgh and Rouses Point, was initially suspended at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020, when severe restrictions were put on border crossings with Canada.

'NOW IS THE TIME'

As border relations gradually returned to normal over the last several months, officials have called for the Adirondack Line's restoration.

In a visit to Plattsburgh City Hall Oct. 11, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand had expressed her support for the service to be reinstated.

"It's really important that we restore the rail line," Gillibrand said at the time, "so that we can get that Amtrak back in operation and also normalize the requirements for crossing."

"I feel that now is the time, Canada just normalized vis-à-vis us, now we have to normalize it vis-à-vis them, so I think it's the time and it helps our communities grow. Especially around the holidays, this is a time when people like to visit places, to shop, they have a little time off, like it's an important time to have easy transportation between the United States and Canada."

COMING NEXT YEAR

However, it doesn't seem as if the rail line will return for this holiday season like Gillibrand had hoped.

President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce Garry Douglas said it will be next year.

"This week Senator Gillibrand spoke with the President of Amtrak who reviewed a number of challenges being addressed, indicating that service is now projected to return in the spring," Douglas said.

"While we are disappointed at how long Amtrak is taking in this instance, having resumed Toronto service last summer, it is good to have an updated time table and we will continue to work with our federal representatives to press for the earliest possible restart in 2023."

VALUABLE OPTION

Douglas added that the return of the service would be a beneficial option for many in the region.

"The North Country Chamber continues to press for resumption of Amtrak's Adirondack service to and from Montreal," he said.

"Besides being one of just three U.S.-Canada passenger rail links across the continent, it has been a valuable option in the past for tourists wanting a scenic way to come to the Adirondacks and is also used by other travelers including many downstate college students coming to Plattsburgh. Our U.S. Senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik have been joined in pressing for progress."

City of Plattsburgh Mayor Chris Rosenquest called the news "exciting" after a long time of waiting.

"We have been waiting for a couple years now for it to reopen without, really, having any hopes, to be honest, that the federal government was going to move any quicker than they wanted to. Just the notion that it was in the works was much more positive momentum than we had heard before," Rosenquest said.

"Despite that, we're happy that it is going to be open in the spring."

STUDENTS, FLIGHTS

Rosenquest also hailed the benefits of having another travel option in the area.

"I think the thing that I've heard the most, and that it has impacted the most, are the students coming up ... from downstate and then also the Canadian travelers that had used the station to travel from Montreal to Plattsburgh for flights," he said.

"For us here, just going and jumping on the train and heading down to New York City is a nice option, rather than trying to drive or even ride the bus."

When asked for comment on the Adirondack Line, Senior Public Relations Manager for Amtrak in New York, Jason Abrams, said "We're actively engaged with our congressional delegations regarding the return of Adirondack service and continue to work with the appropriate Host Railroads operation agreements."

Abrams didn't provide any definitive dates for the projected return.

Email: cnewton@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: CarlySNewton