Montreal, Quebec, Canada - Schenectady, New York
January 7, 1999
This travelogue covers my journey on the Amtrak Adirondack from Montreal, Quebec, Canada to Schenectady, New York. Linked from this travelogue you will find both still pictures and short video clips of this journey.
1999 JAN 07 THU 10:31
The hotel was great! If you plan to visit Montreal by train, I'd strongly recommend staying at the Canadian Pacific Queen Elizabeth Hotel. There are both elevators and escalators that go direct from the train station right up to the registration area of the hotel! The hotel is huge and very well appointed. There are many restaurants and other services located right in the hotel itself.
The man at the registration desk was very courteous and helpful. He was able to dig up the reservation that I had first moved from Wednesday to Thursday and then had canceled. I just had to give him my last name. He gave me room number 1100 on the eleventh floor. I found this room to be at the very end of a very long hallway. This is a really big hotel! When I got to the end of the hallway, I found a door marked: "Rooms 1100, 1101, 1102, 1103" and it had an electronic lock on it. I inserted my key card to get through that door and found that I was in another very small hallway, maybe 8 feet by 10 feet, with four more doors, one for each of those rooms.
I was very impressed with the room. It was not a suite, but it was quite a bit larger than the rooms that you get in most newly constructed hotels. Everything in the room was first class, even the view from the two huge windows that made up much of two walls of the room. I took a number of photographs of the room and even the view out the window. Those photos are posted below.
Click here to view the photos.
I left my hotel room at 9:10 A.M. to head out for the station. I took the elevator down to the main level which is called the "Transfer Level." I checked out at the desk just a few feet from the elevators and then returned to the elevators to take the special one that goes down two more levels right into the train station!
The Montreal Station is one of the best that I have visited and compares favorably with the Amtrak Stations in Washington, DC and Chicago. There are a tremendous number of restaurants right in the station (even a McDonald's!) plus many other shops. There seems to be an abundance of staff in the station that can give you directions as well as an official VIA Rail Information Booth. The VIA Rail Information booth was well stocked with all sorts of brochures, schedules and other information, including a very generous supply of Amtrak National Timetables and individual route schedules as well as VIA's own timetables.
The boarding process is very simple and clear in the Montreal Station. There is a large electronic board in the center of the station that lists the name and number of every train, the track number, and even lists the boarding time as well as the departure time. Similar information is posted for all arrivals. This is a fairly busy station that was filled with people. There were more than a dozen trains posted on the board that were either arriving or departing. A nice thing about the system here is they seemed to post train information well in advance. When I arrived at 1 A.M. last night, I noticed that the information for my train leaving at 10:10 A.M. was already posted, including the boarding time and track number.
People lined up at the track number for whichever train they were about to board. There are seats by each track number in case you arrive a bit early. Staff members come around from time to time to see if anyone has any questions, to keep the line in order, and to suggest pre-boarding for children, elderly, handicapped and anyone else that needs assistance. Red Caps float by from time to time to see if anyone wants help with their luggage. Once a train is ready for boarding, the track number sign starts flashing. You have to carry your bags down a flight of stairs to get down to the track level. As you start down the stairs, a staff member clicks a counter and wishes you a good journey. For this particular train, you are also given a Customs Claim form to be filled out on the train before you reach the border.
At track level, I found the platform to be raised so people could board directly without going up any train stairs. They placed everyone going all the way to New York City in the car closest to the platform stairs. I had to walk a bit of a way down the platform past the cafe car to enter the car where they wanted people going to Schenectady and other destinations short of New York City.
I placed my rolling luggage bag in a small luggage alcove by the door as I entered the car and then took the first seat with a good window on the east side of the train. I didn't want to be too far from my luggage in case I needed to get it out for U.S. Customs to inspect, or in case I needed anything from it. I put my backpack and carry bag above my seat, but first removed the items that I would need during the trip. These items included my notebook computer, digital camera, scanner, tickets, and important travel and border crossing documents. I thought for a moment about moving down to another seat to see if I could find one with an electric outlet, but I really lucked out. There was one right at the seat that I had already selected! I plugged in my surge protector and plugged my computer into that and I was ready to roll! Later however, I discovered that there is an electric outlet at every seat in this car. This does not seem to be a Custom Class or Club Car, but somebody did the right thing by adding an electric outlet at every seat! It was obviously a Retrofit as the original Amtrak I cars did not have outlets at every seat. I doubt it costs all that much to implement, either. It is just one long strip of evenly spaced electric outlets that has been placed about 9 inches below the windows for the entire length of the car.
Channel 87 161.415 was used inside the Montreal Station and remained the road channel all the way to the border.
On the way out of Montreal, we crossed the St. Lawrence River. I saw a giant ball outside my window which I'm pretty sure is what was the United States Pavilion at "Expo'67", which was like a World's Fair that celebrated Canada's 100th Anniversary as a nation back in 1967. They kept that exhibition around for a few years renaming it "Man And His World." I used to live in Boston, Massachusetts in the 1960's and 1970's and visited this fair many times. I would travel overnight by Greyhound Bus leaving Boston on Friday evening, arriving on Saturday morning and then leave again on Sunday night to arrive back in Boston on Monday morning. It was a great way to spend the weekend! Bus fare, admission, one night in a hotel and food was the only expenses for the trip. Montreal opened their first subway in 1967 which was how I traveled from the hotel to the fair. The subway was noteworthy as being one of the first to use rubber wheels instead of steel wheels which was suppose to reduce noise and provide for a smoother ride.
The fair was on a man-made island out in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. I believe the island also served as support for a bridge that crossed the river. I took a few pictures of this giant ball, a geodesic dome, as well as some buildings around it. I don't think this fair has been in operation for many years, but many of the structures were permanent and have probably converted to other functions. Those photos can be seen above with the photos of the Hotel in Montreal.
Ch 87 161.415 CN Detector 004.6 No Alarms
Conductor Train 694: "We have a stop signal at the diamond with a freight train strung across it".
1999 JAN 07 THU 11:52
We have reached the Canadian - United States border.
Ch 66 161.100 MP 173.3 Detector: No Defects
Ch 66 161.100 MP 154.6 Detector: No Defects
South of the border the route has become very scenic. Along the east side of the train, Lake Champlain follows the tracks for many miles. I've taken a number of photographs of the lake from the train and they can be seen below. For much of the way, the tracks are along a cliff high above the edge of the lake.
Click here to view the photos.
Ch 66 161.100 MP 101.9 Detector: No Defects
Ch 66 161.100 MP 037.7 Detector: No Defects
For lunch, I purchased a Chicken Parmagiana Sandwich from the Cafe Car. It was a breaded breast of chicken with tomato sauce in a bun. Along with a fruit drink and baked potato chips, that made a pretty good lunch.
It appears that Channel 66 161.100 is the railroad radio frequency used by the Adirondack as far as Schenectady, New York!
We arrived into Schenectady, New York about 4:33 P.M., 10 minutes late. We had been running about 10 minutes behind schedule for most of the trip. Actually, I would not have been unhappy if we had lost more time, say an hour or so, to reduce my wait in Schenectady for the Ethan Allen Express to Rutland, Vermont! I took a few pictures of the train before it left the station. The station platform was up on some structure like a bridge. Thus, airflow was unobstructed. Wind combined with the cold made it extra cold up on the platform! But, I stayed a few extra minutes to get a few photos of the Amtrak Adirondack. Those photos can be seen with the set above.
There was both a stairway and an elevator from the platform down to the indoor station below. Most people with luggage chose to take the elevator. The main crowd of people had already fled the cold while I was taking some final photographs of the train. As I approached the elevator, another woman with luggage joined me in my wait for the elevator. She was going to take the stairs, but decided that it presented just too much of a challenger for her luggage. The elevator too so long to arrive, that we both though it might be out of operation. Our only hint otherwise was that I did see some people take the elevator before us. Eventually the door did open and we went in. There were only two buttons: "1" and "2". By process of elimination, we figured we needed to go to "1" since we were already on "2". However, no matter how many times we pushed the button, nothing seemed to happen. Actually, as we discovered in about a minute or so, the elevator was descending, but so slowly and quietly that we could neither hear nor feel the descent! The door opened on the opposite end of the elevator when we reached the station level.
The station looked comfortable and there were plenty of seats. It was a little cold in the station, but nothing like the cold temperature outside! I set my bags down in some chairs in an empty corner of the station. There were about a half dozen people in the station including a few in line at the ticket window. Two more trains were scheduled into this station before my train would arrive. The eastbound Amtrak Lake Shore Limited was scheduled to arrive before noon, but had been delayed again just like my trip on that train and wasn't expected into that station until at least 7 P.M.!
Just like in Montreal, there were plenty of schedules available in the station including many copies of both the Amtrak National Timetable and the Amtrak Northeast Timetable as well as many individual route schedules. I picked up a couple of each one that I already didn't have a copy of, especially a couple of copies of the Amtrak Northeast Timetable. The one individual route schedule that was obviously missing was that of the Ethan Allen Express, the train that I was waiting for! Since the schedule is in the National Timetable and I have a couple of those, it really didn't matter.
I made a few plans of what to do when I return to this station tomorrow and have a layover of more than 6 hours. There seems to be plenty of stores, malls, bus service, taxi service and just about everything located conveniently to the station. I'll make more exact plans later. I spent most of the remaining two hour layover for my train just working on my notebook computer in the waiting room.
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