Return of Amtrak ‘Adirondack’ route in limbo

Published: Jul. 13, 2022 at 4:53 PM EDT
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - The pandemic has eased but the “Adirondack” Amtrak route from Montreal to New York City remains shut down. North Country officials say the service is an essential source of transportation for those in the region and are calling for answers.

“We cannot accept and will not accept that this area, our line, is the last remaining one yet to restart after the pandemic,” said Garry Douglas with the North Country Chamber of Commerce.

For decades, The Adirondack line has been a tourism staple, offering a slower ride through the scenic Adirondack Mountains and connecting the Big Apple to Quebec’s largest city.

“They’ve restarted the service to Toronto and western New York, so excuse me, there is no impediments at the border, if you can restart that one, you can restart this one,” Douglas said.

The train has been vital to those who call Plattsburgh home, including David O’Connell, who has fond memories of the train growing up. “Go by the train tracks and film them coming by all the time,” O’Connell said.

Catherine Hernandez says the train was her main source of transportation as a college student and now as a permanent Plattsburgh resident living downtown. With no need for a car, she would use the train to see her family almost four hours away. “Seeing my family has been more difficult. I usually would go down about four or five times a year to go visit, now it’s one maybe two times,” she said.

Hernandez loved the ride because it allowed her time to work so she could enjoy her time with family. She says that using other forms of transportation like a bus or car rental is expensive and unreliable. “When you have a car, it’s really easy to hop into the car and just go places. People take for granted how easy that is,” she said.

Looking at the numbers from 2019, over 117,000 people rode the Adirondack and over 13,000 hopped on from the Plattsburgh stop alone

“That is a viable option that is not available right now and it’s very limiting for our city,” said Plattsburgh Mayor Chris Rosenquest.

There are concerns about Amtrak’s new Ethan Allen Express service to Burlington. Douglas expects the ultimate aim is to expand that route to Montreal. “It only makes it all the more important for us to conceive and protect our service as still the one and therefore dominant connection between New York and Montreal,” he said.

Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand last Friday sent a letter to Amtrak asking for a timeline and what steps are being taken to ensure the service returns and what Congress can do to speed up the process.

Amtrak officials say they are working on restoring the route and plan to make an announcement at a later date. They declined a request for an interview.

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