Amtrak's Maple Leaf will resume cross-border service to Toronto and other Canadian destinations on Monday, June 27, 2020.
Train #63 will operate through from New York Penn Station to Toronto starting on June 27th and the first train #64 will operate from Toronto to New York Penn Station on Tuesday, June 28th. Daily round-trip service will continue there after.
The Maple Leaf's restoration will be Amtrak's first cross-border service to resume since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The New York to Montreal Adirondack & Seattle to Vancouver Cascades Service remain suspended.
The Maple Leaf is a joint Amtrak - VIA Rail Canada operated train, with Amtrak crews staffing the train from New York to Niagara Falls, ONT. VIA Rail crews operate the train from Niagara Falls, ONT to Toronto. VIA Rail leases the through running Amtrak equipment used on their portion of the trip.
Passengers making the cross-border journey are issued two tickets; one for the portion from the U.S. to Niagara Falls, ONT and another ticket for the portion from Niagara Falls, ONT to their Canadian destination. The same holds true for travel from Canada to the U.S.
To Toronto, cross-border travelers must exit the train with all of their luggage upon arrival at the Niagara Falls, ONT VIA Rail station for Canadian customs & immigration inspections. Upon completely the passenger & train inspection functions by Canadian officials, passengers re-board the train. From Toronto, cross-border travelers must exit the train with all of their luggage upon arrival at the Niagara Falls, NY Amtrak station for U.S. customs & immigration inspections. Upon completely the passenger & train inspection functions by U.S. officials, passengers re-board the train. Conveniently, the Niagara Falls, NY station has a high-level platform which make this process much easier.
The train offers both coach & business class accommodations. Wi-FI is offered on the U.S. portion of the trip, but not in Canada. Amtrak food service is available between New York and Niagara Falls, NY, with limited VIA Rail food service offered between Niagara Falls, ONT and Toronto. The restored train will be operated with all Amfleet I cars for the foreseeable future, as the availability of Amfleet II cars is currently limited.
A pre-pandemic train #64 crossing the Niagara River into the U.S.
As to the restoration of the New York to Montreal Adirondack, there is NO firm date for the restoration of this service. Reportedly, there are several complicating factors impacting the restoration. Canadian National, over which the Adirondack operates north of the border, has allowed large segments of the route to deteriorate, with over 25 miles of the line now reduced to operating speeds as low as 10mph. This is unacceptable to Amtrak (and to passengers)! In addition, Amtrak must negotiate a new operating agreement with the Montreal-area transportation authority for access into and use of Montreal's Central Station.
Unfortunately, operating the train only as far as Plattsburgh is NOT a feasible operation, as there are no realistic facilities to turn or service the train at Plattsburg. In addition, without Montreal as an end point, the ridership north of Saratoga Springs would be very low. Based on 2019 station-by-station ridership stats, a truncated train might carry an average of only 25 passengers per day combined in both directions.
ESPA continues to monitor the Adirondack situation and is pushing for a quick resolution to the current challenges.