December 6, 2013

Montreal-to-Boston night train gains steam

Advocates meet in Canada to advance a plan for the ‘hotel’ passenger service, which would include stops in Maine.

By Tom Bell
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Montreal entrepreneur Francois Rebello

Contributed photo

click image to enlarge

Rebello would also have to negotiate with the Canadian National Railway, which owns the short stretch that connects with Central Station, Montreal’s major intercity rail station. Pan Am Railways owns the tracks between Auburn and Plaistow, N.H. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority owns the tracks in Massachusetts.

Officials from the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad could not be reached for comment Thursday. The railroad is a subsidiary of Genesee & Wyoming, which owns numerous short line freight railroads all over the country.

The St. Lawrence & Atlantic does not move as much freight as many other Genesee & Wyoming railroads.

While allowing passenger trains on its line in northern New England would generate revenue for the company, Genesee & Wyoming might not want to set a precedent that would encourage passenger rail on busier lines it owns elsewhere in the country, Betke said.

Also, liability insurance for a passenger service would be hugely expensive, said Don Marson, who retired in June from his job as vice president and general manager of the Maine Eastern Railroad, which operates summer excursion trains between Brunswick and Rockland.

Marson said the night train would have to stop for two hours at the border of the United States and Canada to give customs and border control agents time to interview passengers and inspect their bags.

“The hotel train – I don’t think it stands a snowball chance in hell, myself,” he said.

Rebello said the train would be stopped at the border for only a hour.

“It’s not perfect,” he said. “But it’s something you can live with.”

Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at:

Twitter: @TomBellPortland

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