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ceo

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So here's a new one: an outfit called "Fondation Trains de nuit" in Quebec is pushing for rail service from Montréal to Sherbrooke and continuing overnight to Boston. The article says they're negotiating with Genesee and Wyoming, so that sounds like it would go over the Saint Lawrence and Atlantic to Portland and then south to Boston. This would be kind of awesome, actually, if they manage to scrape together the huge amount of money it would take to upgrade that line for passenger service.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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So here's a new one: an outfit called "Fondation Trains de nuit" in Quebec is pushing for rail service from Montréal to Sherbrooke and continuing overnight to Boston. The article says they're negotiating with Genesee and Wyoming, so that sounds like it would go over the Saint Lawrence and Atlantic to Portland and then south to Boston. This would be kind of awesome, actually, if they manage to scrape together the huge amount of money it would take to upgrade that line for passenger service.
This "hotel train" proposal via the SL&A has been fading in and out and back again for well over a decade now. I don't know if this particular outfit is a different one than last time, but safe to say given the promises-to-results ratio thus far it's vaporware until proven otherwise.
 

DBM

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This "hotel train" proposal via the SL&A has been fading in and out and back again for well over a decade now. I don't know if this particular outfit is a different one than last time, but safe to say given the promises-to-results ratio thus far it's vaporware until proven otherwise.
They're probably subleasing from the Boston Surface Railroad in Downtown Woonsocket!

[already legendary as the "Franco-American Capital of the US"]

In all seriousness: the best thing about the SL&A corridor, from looking at the map, is the 40-mile stretch from the NH/VT border on the Connecticut, slicing SE down route 110 and starting to parallel the mighty Androscoggin in downtown Berlin, then following the Andro as it turns sharply east in downtown Gorham and flows east to the ME border.

The grandeur of the White Mountains!

But the thing is: there's already a tourist train that chugs through the Whites--so how would this compete with it?
 

DBM

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By bringing the Quebecois straight from Montreal?
Yeah, but if you live in greater Montreal, don't you prefer to take only 2 hours driving from Montreal to the NH border and the edge of the Whites, and THEN you can hop-on a tourist train based exclusively in the Whites region... versus having to spend so many more hours on a train to get to the Whites to begin with? (Unless this train will average 70 mph+?)
 

tysmith95

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I don't think there's a large market for this when a Greyhound bus would be faster.
 

Tallguy

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You really think that Greyhound and a sleeper train are going for the same market?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Yeah, but if you live in greater Montreal, don't you prefer to take only 2 hours driving from Montreal to the NH border and the edge of the Whites, and THEN you can hop-on a tourist train based exclusively in the Whites region... versus having to spend so many more hours on a train to get to the Whites to begin with? (Unless this train will average 70 mph+?)
The SL&A mainline is only 30 MPH passenger. Absent a rather large sum for upgrading, this train is going to take more than all night to get across. Portland-Boston is the only segment that's up-to-spec for any useful passenger service.

I don't know what they're selling as the "experience", but the experience is going to have to float it because the travel times sure won't.
 

lainpimicaja

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Having a service that connects Montreal, the White Mountains, Portland, and Boston would be a win-win-win-win from all perspectives. It is insanely hard to get to the White Mountains today without a car for a hiking / camping trip (you can make it happen with Concord Coach and the AMC shuttle, but you can only make that work on a couple of trips per week in the peak of summer). I can absolutely see the appeal for people trying to get from Montreal and Boston to the mountains and lakes in this area, let alone traveling between just Montreal and Boston. Huge potential here.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Having a service that connects Montreal, the White Mountains, Portland, and Boston would be a win-win-win-win from all perspectives. It is insanely hard to get to the White Mountains today without a car for a hiking / camping trip (you can make it happen with Concord Coach and the AMC shuttle, but you can only make that work on a couple of trips per week in the peak of summer). I can absolutely see the appeal for people trying to get from Montreal and Boston to the mountains and lakes in this area, let alone traveling between just Montreal and Boston. Huge potential here.
I don't disagree, but the problem with this proposal is that it assumes the lines in question are plug-and-play. They're not, except for the Downeaster overlap. And that some private entity has the means to provide all of the sleeper and diner rolling stock for it at a level of service/luxury (i.e. probably not "antique" cars) that people will pay for. Verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry dubious on its face. This is an operation that needs capital improvements for the SL&A, and a lot of self-capital for the rolling stock.
 

Wash

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Plus, Boston North Station hasn't handled an overnight train since the Gull stopped running in 1960, so there are no facilities for crew rest, catering, or laundry. The train would have to be shuttled over the Grand Junction to Southampton Yard for that stuff, *if* Amtrak would allow it.
 
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DBM

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To me this only reinforces the absurdity that there is no Boston/Lowell/Nashua/Manch/Concord/White River Jct/Montpelier/Burlington/Montreal service. A nice high-speed train should be able to do those 8 stops/310 mi. approx. in 4 hours to be competitive with driving. Such a service would get people to less than 60 miles from Lincoln, NH (i.e., gateway to the Whites), and would be extremely convenient to the most popular Green Mtns. peaks--Killington, Camel's Hump, Stowe.

Instead, there's this distraction, yoking metro Montreal (pop. 4.2 million) primarily to metro Portland (pop. 500,000), with metro Boston (4.9 million) as the secondary afterthought. Wut.

[And yes, I know, the technical challenges involving a Boston-Montreal train running the I-93/I-89 corridor have been discussed at some length here... I doesn't make it any less lamentable]
 

Stlin

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Quite honestly, I think as far as trains to Canada is concerned NY Penn or Albany should be the center of the universe. NYC after all, is the bigger population center and already has the Adirondack and Maple Leaf - and with the Empire Corridor already high speed designated and studied, I'd probably be pushing for improvements to Albany and north - in essence, a branch off the Empire Corridor across the border to Montreal. The Adirondack currently takes 11 hrs NYP-Albany in 2hrs 40min, to cover 141 miles, Albany-Montreal takes 7hrs 20min to cover 240 miles. If the entire corridors trackage were maintained even at 79mph Class 4 standards, (I realize that the Canadian Subdivision runs along Lake Champlain shore and is thus curvy and slow, so that might not be realistic-) that trip would take a total of ~5, 5.5 hours with station stops, 4.5 without. Now further assume it's 2040 and NEC future has reduced travel times between BOS and NYP from the current Acela 3hrs 35min to 2hrs 45min. With a 45 minute connection, call it a 7-8hr trip (it's presently 14). Or, with East-West Rail, connect at Albany. Compared to a 6 hour drive, I would actually call it borderline reasonable and useful transit.
 

Wash

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Hmmm, if a combined BOS/NYP overnight train that splits in Albany is a good idea, why not add a Boston section to the daytime Adirondack as well? Even if it's less useful for BOS-MTL travelers than the overnight train, it certainly could be useful for Bostonians traveling to Albany or upstate New York.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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To me this only reinforces the absurdity that there is no Boston/Lowell/Nashua/Manch/Concord/White River Jct/Montpelier/Burlington/Montreal service. A nice high-speed train should be able to do those 8 stops/310 mi. approx. in 4 hours to be competitive with driving. Such a service would get people to less than 60 miles from Lincoln, NH (i.e., gateway to the Whites), and would be extremely convenient to the most popular Green Mtns. peaks--Killington, Camel's Hump, Stowe.
The B&M New Englander took 9 hours to do North Station-Montreal back in 1941 making no stops between Concord and White River Jct. The Northern Route was absolute ass on speed because of the excess curvature following the river valleys. I don't know why people think this route is such a big 'get'. It was generally terrible for what it set out to do, and served no population centers worthy of a stop (local stops in NH beyond the cities were handled by B&M on the White River Jct. short-turns only, and you could cross-ticket with a transfer @ WRJ to get to Montreal).

You could do the NNEIRI South Station-Worcester-Springfield + Vermonter-north in less time by pushing the Palmer-Springfield stretch of B&A and Northampton-Deerfield stretch of Conn River to Class 5/90 MPH like the NNEIRI's max build plan specced. And net TWO daily frequencies with cross-tixed transfers @ SPG to the existing Vermonter by leveraging a vanilla Inland slot on the link-up. In fact, that's probably going to do better than hubbing at Albany, so I don't know why we're getting all target-fixated about New York. We already studied how to do this at good scale barely 7 years ago.
 

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https://www.masstransitmag.com/rail...treal-to-boston-train-would-run-through-maine

Red-flag warning on the "hotel train". They expect 2000 passengers a day on the Montreal-Portland segment, 1000 a day to Boston. That's almost twice as much POR-MTL as the NNEIRI study tallied for the combo of one BOS-MTL frequency + two New Haven-MTL frequencies. From all stop pairs New Haven-north + BOS-WOR-SPG, and cross-ticketing coordination in SPG to give everyone access to the transfer frequencies. These numbers are fucked.

Whole thing is also contingent on the private outfit getting financing for ops (same tease Boston Surface RR stuffed in the fine print over Providence-Worcester). As well as needing to raise $100M for capital improvements to upgrade Montreal-Sherbrooke to Class 3 track...something the Province is unlikely to fund and something Genessee & Wyoming sees little skin for on freight because they're quite right-sized running just a couple daily freight trains at 25 MPH on that corridor.


Looking mighty scammy. :cautious:


EDIT: Also...Montreal-Sherbrooke is doable on better-speed track by going the Canadian Pacific route instead of SL&A. It's currently being upgraded to Class 3/59 MPH for double-stacked freights into Port of St. John. You just switch south of Downtown Sherbrooke off CP onto the SL&A route at their junction for the rest of the way and concentrate the capital improvements on Sherbrooke-Yarmouth. But CP is a whole different animal to negotiate with being a multinational Class I freight titan. They won't bat an eye at a thinly-sourced proposal like one of G&W's quasi-autonomous little Class III freight subsidiaries might. So the fact that their proposal is wedded to the entirety of the SL&A route with loudly banging tin cup for upgrades...all to do what the CP route already does into Sherbrooke...is another big red flag.
 
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bigpicture7

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^This topic is continuing to hang around in the news of late. Here's a fairly substantive piece from the AP today (9/10):

Some of our rail buffs on here can do a much better job assessing the quality of the assertions therein compared to me, but there are seem to be some notable nuggets in there worth pondering (such as that this could be profitable with as few as 200 passengers per day on the route, even though they predict up to 1,000).

The article also sounds cautionary notes about low speed zones, serious track work needed north of the Canadian border, likely need for multiple crews per train, and need to negotiate with several other parties.
 

Riverside

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I think the messaging ought to be more precise... this is really a night-train between Maine and Montreal. Serving Old Orchard Beach (which I guess is sometimes referred to as "the French Canadian Riviera", see similar notes here) is almost surely the bigger draw here.
 

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