Montrealer (train)

Montrealer (train)

Type Inter-city rail
System Amtrak
Locale Canada New England, Mid-Atlantic states
Termini Montreal
New York City
Opening 1972
Closed 1995
Owner CSX, MNCR, AMTK (track)
Operator(s) Amtrak
Line length 0 mi (0.00 km)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Route map

The Montrealer was a passenger train operated by Amtrak between Washington, D.C. and Montreal, Canada. After operating from the 1970s to 1995, with a two-year stoppage in the 1980s, it was replaced by the Vermonter after service to Montreal ended.

The Adirondack currently provides service between New York and Montreal, using a route that stays within New York State until the Canadian border.


The Montrealer was originally a service of the Boston and Maine Railroad (BM), running between Montreal and Washington, D.C. The Ambassador ran the same route but terminated in New York. Both services used the Boston and Maine's Connecticut River Railroad south of Vernon, Vermont, rather than the current route over the New England Central. The southbound line from 1972-1974 was called the Washingtonian, and the northbound was called the Montrealer. The Washingtonian was also Train 185, which came from New York and later along with most other regular trains on the Northeast Corridor, folded into one NortheastDirect in 1995.

Amtrak's Montrealer acquired a reputation as a party train due to the large numbers of skiers who would take the train, staying up late into the night or not sleeping at all. Amtrak equipped the train with its own dedicated lounge car outfitted with a piano, dubbed LePub.

1984 wreck

On the morning of July 7, 1984, the northbound Montrealer (carrying 262 passengers and 16 crew) was derailed by a washed-out culvert between Williston and Essex, Vermont. Heavy rains over the previous night had broken beaver dams upstream, resulting in a 50-foot washout in the 20-foot-high embankment.[1] Five of the train's thirteen cars fell into the stream, with one sleeper car buried under several other cars.[2] Three passengers, one Amtrak attendant, and one Central Vermont Railway crew member were killed; 29 others were seriously injured.[3] The train included four private chartered passenger cars, doubling the usual passenger load and increasing the number of injured; the resulting rescue operation involved extricating dozens of trapped passengers and was then the largest in Vermont history.[1]

Despite the severity of the wreck, the death toll was low due to circumstances permitting quick rescue: area hospitals were at shift changes with doubled staff levels, a 2,400-person [1] The National Transportation Safety Board investigation faulted Amtrak for the lack of a proper cab radio and recommended changes in locomotive battery placement, improvements in baggage rack and seat cushion retention, and the use of shatterproof mirrors in passenger cars.[3]

Suspension and return

The platform at Willimantic, Connecticut, used from 1992 to 1995

The Montrealer was suspended from early April 1987 to mid-July 1989, because of deteriorating track conditions on the Boston and Maine Railroad, which had been taken over by Guilford Transportation. During the suspension, Amtrak offered "Ambus" service (operated by Vermont Transit) to Springfield, Massachusetts, where passengers would board an Amtrak train for points south to Washington. This situation precipitated the only instance of Amtrak seizing another railroad by eminent domain, followed by the re-sale of the track by Amtrak to the Central Vermont Railway. The matter went all the way to the Supreme Court in National Railroad Passenger Corporation v. Boston & Maine Corp., which upheld Amtrak's action. Led by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Representative Silvio Conte of Massachusetts, Congress appropriated $5 million to rebuild the track.[4] Only the section between Windsor and Brattleboro, Vermont, was transferred, however, leaving the line between East Northfield and Springfield, Massachusetts, as an obstacle. The train was reinstated in July 1989, this time taking the long way over the Central Vermont Railway (now the New England Central Railroad), from East Northfield to New London, Connecticut, rather than traveling over the direct Guilford Rail System (formerly Boston & Maine Railroad, now Pan Am Railways) track.[5]:47

In 1989, when the train returned to service, the stop in Northampton, Massachusetts, was discontinued, although the replacement daytime "Ambus" service via Vermont Transit continued running, and a new stop in Amherst, Massachusetts, was added. The crew change was shifted from Springfield to Palmer at the same time. In 1992 a stop was added at Willimantic, Connecticut, but service there was discontinued in 1995 upon inception of the Vermonter.

In 2012, a grant funding rail improvements in Vermont was approved, raising hopes that service to Montreal would eventually be restored.[6]


  1. ^ a b c McCutcheon, Shaw (1985). "Flood Derails Train outside Williston, Vermont". Yankee Magazine. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  2. ^ Fein, Esther B. (8 July 1984). "3 KILLED AS TRAIN FALLS INTO RAVINE IN VERMONT HILLS". New York Times. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Burnett, Jim (15 January 1986). "SAFETY RECOMMENDATION(S) R-85-125 through -128". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Solomon, Brian (2004). Amtrak. Saint Paul, MN: MBI.  
  6. ^ Douglas, Bowen (21 June 2012). "Grant aids Montrealer’s return, advocates say". Retrieved 18 November 2012. 

External links

  • Description of the route
  • 1960 timetable for the route