Legislators react to Amtrak’s suspension of Adirondack Line

Train stop at Port Kent on Lake Champlain (News photo — Andy Flynn)

LAKE PLACID — State legislators representing the Olympic Region reacted harshly to news Monday, June 26, that Amtrak is suspending its Adirondack Line train service from Albany to Montreal due to speed limitations in Canada.

The news came almost three months after Amtrak reinstated the line after a COVID shutdown.

“I am disappointed by Amtrak’s decision to suspend the Adirondack rail line,” said Assemblyman Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay Lake, who represents the Essex County towns of North Elba, Jay, Keene, St. Armand and Wilmington. “We were just getting back to normalcy at our borders and now it feels like we are moving backwards. This rail line is not just important for cross border traffic but for locals as well, especially the many college students who utilize their services throughout the academic year. As the chair of the Task Force on New York Canada Relations, I continue to work with local and state leaders and our federal representatives to find a solution to this issue so that we can welcome folks at our train stations once again.”

Amtrak Senior Public Relations Manager Jason Abrams released an official statement to North Country media — including the Press-Republican, NBC5 and the Adirondack Explorer — about the company’s decision:

“Amtrak rail partner Canadian National (CN) has implemented reduced speed regulations in Canada due to heat, impacting the Amtrak Adirondack route. Trains 68 and 69 will originate and terminate in Albany, NY until further notice.”

Sen. Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, issued a statement on Monday about the shutdown.

“I’m deeply concerned by Amtrak’s decision to suspend the Montreal-New York Adirondack rail line service,” Stec said. “We only recently returned to normal cross-border travel and activity, and suspending this service undoes those efforts and threatens our local economy.

“A long-term suspension of this rail line is unsustainable and would be unacceptable for travelers, local business owners and locals on both sides of the border. I will be working with my local, state and federal partners to take action and address this issue immediately.”

Popular stops along the Adirondack Line that serve the Lake Placid region include Westport, Port Henry and Port Kent — all along Lake Champlain.

The train service was shut down in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and resumed on April 3 after years of political pressure from legislators such as Jones, Stec, U.S. senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, and Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville.

“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 in a March 10 press release after Amtrak announced its reopening of the Adirondack Line. “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.”

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