PLATTSBURGH — Amtrak’s Adirondack line is expected to be returning to service as soon as April 3.
The line, which runs from New York City to Montreal with several stops in between including Plattsburgh, has been shuttered north of Albany for three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The long-awaited resumption by Amtrak of the Adirondack rail service between Montreal and New York City not only reestablishes one of just three vital train links between the U.S. and Canada, but restores Amtrak service to several North Country communities and represents another important step in normalizing cross border travel post pandemic,” Garry Douglas, President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce, said.
“The service, which had been growing before the COVID shutdown in 2020, has been recognized as one of the world’s most scenic train rides, used by Montrealers and New Yorkers as a travel option to reach either end or to access the Adirondacks. For Plattsburgh, it has been popular with area college students who live in the New York metro region.”
The line, according to Amtrak, served 117,490 riding customers in 2019, the year before the pandemic, which was a 5.1 percent increase from 2018.
“Amtrak is committed to restoring service of the Adirondack between New York City and Montreal and all stops in between as soon as possible,” a statement from the rail company said.
“We are actively hiring and training onboard and mechanical employees in New York City and Albany, for which we hosted state-wide job fairs and added 526 new hires in New York in 2022. This also includes a $25,000 sign-on bonus for all mechanical roles to help attract talent.”
Amtrak trains have been seen in Plattsburgh heading north to Rouses Point in recent nights conducting certification runs for new crew members.
“All of the current and new employees need to be qualified under Federal Railroad Administration requirements (qualifications are only valid for one year and could take up to two years depending on onboard position),” the railroad said.
“In order to support the restoration of service levels and ensure trains are available for travel, we also need to conduct general maintenance tasks and have the crew in place to conduct the work.”
Amtrak said it has been working with host railroad partners, Canadian Pacific and Canadian National about the return of service in the, “safest, most efficient manner.”
U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik have been working with Amtrak for several months toward re-establishing the Adirondack service.
“From Plattsburgh to Poughkeepsie and into Penn Station, the Adirondack Line runs through some of the most beautiful parts of Upstate New York and resumption of this service will help pump vital tourism dollars into Main Streets across Upstate New York,” Schumer said.
Gillibrand said she was pleased to see that the rail line will be up and running before the big summer tourist season hits.
“The Adirondack line’s years-long closure has been economically harmful to many of the communities along its route,” Gillibrand said.
“This is an important development and I will keep fighting to provide the North Country with the resources and services it needs to thrive.”
‘CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION’
The senators said that the reopening of the rail line will help bolster tourism in the region, which accounts for 44.7 percent of employment in Hamilton County, 36.8 percent in Essex County, and more than 16 percent in the Adirondack region as a whole.
Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) said that in addition to aiding the tourism industry, the Adirondack provides needed transportation for many.
“Families throughout Upstate New York and the North Country rely on the Adirondack Line for transportation, and it serves a significant economic driver, connecting tourists and our Canadian neighbors, to our region,” Stefanik said.
“When Amtrak initially left the North Country out of their reopening plans, I brought New York’s 21st District’s concerns to the highest levels to reopen the Adirondack Line. I continued my push to secure a date and deliver this result, so our families can have certainty about their access to transportation.”
State Assemblyman D. Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay Lake) said the return of the line is great news for the North Country.
“The community depends on this service and have waited patiently for Amtrak’s return,” Jones, who also worked with Amtrak on the return, said.
“The train also brings tourists to the North Country and is a vital service for students at SUNY Plattsburgh and Clinton Community College as well. This is cause for celebration and I look forward hearing those train whistles in Plattsburgh once again.”
State Sen. Dan Stec (R,C-Queensbury) said the return of service was a major priority for the region and welcome news for residents and businesses alike.
“The Adirondack Line is a crucial resource for the North Country. It’s a transportation service for our residents and with its ability to connect visitors from Canada and across out state to this region, a major economic driver,” Stec said.
“Its closure had a major impact on our ability to move forward from the pandemic and get our economy back on track.”
Assemblyman Matt Simpson (R,C-Horicon) called the news a “great day” and predicted that the re-opening “will result in increased economic activity and growth, as well as an influx of tourists looking to explore the Adirondacks.”
Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman said he was pleased to See Amtrak respond to local advocacy.
“I look forward to having this important rural transportation service back,” Cashman said.
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