PORTLAND, Maine — Rail advocates are dusting off a proposal for passenger prepare service between Montreal and Boston, driving a renewed curiosity in prepare journey to bolster an idea that has been round for greater than a decade.

“It’s not a tough promote in any respect. Lots of people need this,” mentioned Francois Rebello, a former nationwide meeting member in Quebec and a guide on the undertaking.

A whole bunch of vacationers would journey a privately operated, in a single day prepare every day if obstacles could be overcome to make the service a actuality in coming years, in accordance with a ridership examine.

It wouldn’t be a high-speed affair. Promoters envision a distinct expertise — a relaxed journey with a meal and sleep earlier than arriving bright-eyed on the vacation spot. The 14-hour journey would journey via Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Quebec.

The proposal comes in opposition to a backdrop of a rail revival, and greater than $100 billion in railway infrastructure funding authorized by Congress.

Maine State Sen. Richard Bennett, a Republican who lives in a district the place the prepare would cross, mentioned there’s a lot work to be accomplished.

“I’m each excited and skeptical,” he mentioned. “I actually help the idea and I feel it has numerous promise. I feel this may be accomplished.”

A market examine suggests about 4,000 folks journey each day between Montreal and Boston, and about 1,000 of them would go for rail service if it’s out there, Rebello mentioned. The service could be worthwhile with solely 200 riders, he mentioned.

However the proposal is within the early levels and the obstacles are many.

The observe on the Canadian aspect of the border requires greater than $100 million in upgrades and repairs. The observe is in good condition via northern New England however the velocity is proscribed to about 35 mph (56 kph) for a protracted stretch, and there’s little hope of securing extra funding to spice up the velocity.

Operators must negotiate agreements with a number of personal homeowners of the rail — the Saint Lawrence and Atlantic, CSX and others — and there may very well be a number of crews required for the prepare. Then there’s the query of clearing customs with folks coming and going at a number of prepare stops, and discovering scarce tools.

The thought for restoring Montreal-to-Boston passenger rail service for the primary time for the reason that Nineteen Sixties has been bounced round for greater than a decade, and a number of other totally different rail routes have been floated over time.

This time, the proposed route would comply with Canadian Pacific Railway observe from Montreal to Sherbrooke, Quebec, after which the St. Lawrence and Atlantic throughout Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, the place a CSX-owned rail passes via Outdated Orchard Seaside, a well-liked Maine vacationer vacation spot for Canadians. The ultimate stretch is operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority.

Carl Fowler, a member of the Vermont Rail Advisory Council, is a rail advocate who likes the concept of expanded passenger rail service. However he mentioned folks need to be practical concerning the proposal’s challenges.

“There are numerous unfastened ends to be resolved,” he mentioned.

Proponents have engaged with the Canadian Pacific Railway and the company guardian of St. Lawrence and Atlantic, and the Canadian authorities already has thought of investing in railway upgrades, Rebello mentioned. Montreal actual property entrepreneur Nikolai Ray has signed on an investor.

About 60 rail advocates, legislators, tourism officers and others gathered lately in Coaticook, Quebec, to debate the imaginative and prescient promoted by Montreal-based Fondation Trains De Nuit, or Evening Practice Basis, and look at a proposed map. Notably absent have been state transportation officers from Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

However the undertaking received’t begin anytime quickly. Probably the most optimistic view is that the undertaking would want not less than two years to turn out to be a actuality, he mentioned. Nevertheless, it may take longer to safe funding and rail agreements.

A motorist may get from Boston to Montreal twice as quick however rail advocates say riders would get there in model. Folks may have dinner, be entertained and sleep in a cushty mattress, proponents say. They’d even be spared the price of a resort charge, since they’d be sleeping and showering on the prepare, supporters mentioned.

The undertaking holds enchantment each for older riders who’re nostalgic about trains and a youthful technology that’s much less enthralled with vehicles, Rebello mentioned.

Rail fanatic Sarah LeBaron von Baeyer, who lives exterior Boston and doesn’t drive, mentioned she “wholeheartedly” embraces mass transit that might permit her to go to household and buddies in Canada a number of occasions a yr.

“I like prepare journey. I lived in Japan for a few years. It was completely the easiest way to get round,” she mentioned.


Related Press writers Wilson Ring in Montpelier, Vermont, and Holly Ramer in Harmony, New Hampshire, contributed to this story.


Observe David Sharp on Twitter @David—Sharp—AP

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