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But the federal stimulus reawakened the possibility of funding the project with national money. Yet, the City of Montreal and the State of New York have a different objective: connecting the French-Canadian city with Gotham. The map above shows the route of the proposed Boston-Montreal corridor and potential service routing off the line onto existing Amtrak routes. When developing high-speed rail networks, a 3h30 travel time constitutes the upper limit of how far people are willing to choose rail travel over air routes. As the map demonstrates, only one major metro area, Boston, would be within 3h30 distance of Montreal, with several smaller cities such as Burlington also within striking distance.
One major problem with this planned route is that trains would enter North Station, not South Station, where most service from Boston originates. In other words, a New York route would provide service to Montreal in five hours or less for the majority of the Northeastern seaboard, with the visible exception of Boston, which would be more like 6h30 away save for improvements along the Boston-Albany route. Even if the New York corridor were twice as expensive as the Boston route (it wouldn’t be), it would still provide more travel benefits to more people per unit of cost. But the only government-approved national rail map we have suggests that the Boston corridor is the one that deserves high-speed rail.
Note: there are several technical problems that would have to be addressed for both potential routes to allow through-running. In New York, the Empire Connection, the line on the west side of Manhattan that trains would take to enter Penn Station, heads east as it enters the facility. In Boston, trains arriving at North Station would similarly have to reverse directions to go northeast to Portland.
Perhaps the easiest solution to overcoming the political imbalance between the two routes is to make Montreal-Albany and Boston-Albany one project: Montreal-Boston-Albany, allowing passengers to transfer at Albany to Boston, or, if demand was sufficient, to create through-service. It wouldn’t have the power of three states, but New York and Massachusetts together should be sufficient, especially with the better strategic transportation argument on their side.
A few weeks ago, I took the bus to Montreal from Boston with my roommates and the trip took 7h30m. This article also seems to completely disregard the benefits of all the Vermont and New Hampshire connections in between. I believe that connecting the entire New England region and providing a connection to Montreal is extremely important and that forcing New Englanders over to Albany to catch a train to Montreal, not only doesn’t make much sense, it is also a slap in the face to six states.
I’m a daily reader and avid fan of the site, but I think the mark was missed on this article and too much emphasis placed on figures rather than the unique aspects of New England and the need for connections within the entire region. In the immediate near term why not just duck the whole issue and upgrade the busiest sections of the northeast network, Boston – NY and the Empire corridor, ideally with Empire electrification (hopefully all the way to Toronto, which when combined with GO and the NEC would make a very nice start at a national electric system)? This should be accompanied by an HSR study, but in the long term I really don’t see a way to justify both NY HSR and a parrallel New England route. Kyle called the NY – Montreal route a slap in the face to New England, but his discussion of it as a route for Massachusetts makes a regional service much more sensible. Sorry to double post, but I cant edit on here, and the link didn’t come out properly. Boston to Montreal restores rail connectivity lost in the 1980’s when the Concord Lebanon section of the NH main line was abandoned.
What also needs to be developed is the restoration of some of the historic routes for seasonal and year round use that connect our major tourist destination. Such destinations as Newport, RI, Cape Cod, the NH Seacoast, Bar Harbor, ME historically had great raill connectivity but are now inaccessible except by the automobile.

That same sort of rail to trail initiative happened in Newfoundland and Labrador after the Newfoundland Railway was closed in 1988, when I was one year old.
By the way, I should add that I believe both the route from Montreal to New York and the one from Montreal to Boston make sense.
Kyle, the problem with what you say about connectivity in Boston is that it’s equally true for New York, which is three times as big.
Slower and cheaper than Amtrak's Acela Express, Northeast Regional trains offer good value for trips from Boston, Hartford, Providence and New York City. Monday through Friday, there are 10 Northeast Regional trains on this route; 9 trains on weekends. Amtrak's faster, more expensive, limited-stop Acela Express trains also follow this route 10 times daily during the week.
As a result, both American and Canadian politicians have been arguing for the expansion of rail service from the metropolis south into the United States.
This series of lines would include connections between Boston and Portland, Boston and Albany, Springfield and New Haven, and Boston and Montreal. Upgrades of the partially abandoned route could be sponsored by the Department of Transportation. In the 1970s, hyperactive Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau attempted to connect his city with New York via TGV, a project that was ultimately abandoned due to lack of governmental commitment. The 329-mile route between the two cities would take almost two hours to complete (and about one hour from Montreal to White River Junction, where the existing line branches off). However, I have also included information on travel times of five hours to Montreal with the intention of demonstrating potential future expansions of true high-speed service and the implications for customers willing to travel further.
Excluding Montreal, about 5.1 million people live in the metropolitan areas affected by this service, almost all of them in the Boston area. This means that it would be impossible to continue service from Boston to Providence or Springfield, unless the North-South Rail Link connecting the terminals is ever built. That’s because the slightly longer than two hour trip between Montreal and New York would provide a direct connection to the center of the speedy Northeast Corridor.
These numbers indicate unambiguously that the route from New York would be vastly more productive than the one from Boston. To allow trains to continue southwest to Philadelphia and beyond, the driver would have to go to the other end of the train (it would reverse directions). A direct connection to service emanating from South Station (west to Springfield or southwest to Providence) would not be possible unless Massachusetts built a connection either through the North-South Link or around the city at some location.
That would reduce travel times to Boston from Montreal from 6h30 to something closer to 3.5 hours.
This means that connecting Montreal to Albany and thence New York would actually require less new construction than connecting it directly to Boston. There’s only one route from Toronto to Ottawa, as well as a route from Toronto to Montreal bypassing Ottawa.
We are marketing to geographic areas such as Europe and the Orient whose populace is conditioned to the availibbility of a balanced muliti-modal transportation system.
In many cases the rail to trail initiative has taken over many connecting corridors for use as bicycle corridors preventing their use as rail corridors. I’ve been wanting to go to New York for a long time, but have never gotten around to doing it. Vermont’s population is about one third urban, well below world average and on a par with the third world.

This is the only way to travel by train between Boston and the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts. The three states began studying a connection with Canada and released a report detailing potential services in April 2003. New York’s state rail plan pushes an improvement of the connection between Albany and Montreal, but only after the link between Buffalo and Albany is substantially accelerated.
I produced these maps by calculating existing travel times on Amtrak from Boston, White River Junction, and Montreal; the map assumes no improvement of service on any of the other lines shown here.
Expanding time to 5h would reach 1.2 million more people and allow travel to Springfield and Portland. In addition to New York and Albany, cities within 3h30 of Montreal would include Newark, Trenton, Philadelphia, Stamford, New Haven, and Springfield. It is in the national public interest to ensure that funding go to the former, rather than latter, route.
That fact says a lot about the problems with the American political system and our unwillingness to submit national policy to an objective test. To speed things up, there could be another driver ready to assume controls as the train entered New York, to allow for a seamless and potentially stop-free transition. This was also the same in Prince Edward Island, as well as some rail lines in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (for example, Frederiction, NB, the province’s capital, has no rail lines anymore, and neither does in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia, west of Halifax). This was confirmed decades ago when local leaders tried to pitch HSR to New York as a way of competing with Toronto. But with stimulus funds for high-speed rail soon to be distributed, it’s worth considering what routes would be most appropriate for possible service. The study advocated 110 mph top speed service on the 329-mile route, providing a 5h48 trip between Boston and Montreal. What follows is a comparison of a hypothetical major investment on the two most prominent visions of high-speed routes between the cities, at average speeds of 180 mph. Within five hours: Wilmington, Baltimore, Washington, Hartford, New London, Providence, and Syracuse. If our high-speed rail dollars are to be well-spent, we have an obligation to compare the benefits of multiple corridors and invest in the most effective option.
Otherwise, passengers would have to change stations to transfer to other trains, slowing down connections and making through-routing impossible.
If New York-Montreal HSR detours through Burlington instead of paralleling the existing route, then there will be even fewer mountain crossings. If you want good rail service in Vermont, ask the state to pay money for electrifying the Vermonter to have through-service to the Northeast Corridor; if there is New York-Montreal HSR, it might make sense to do the same to the Ethan Allen Express. New Hampshire, more focused on expanding highways into Boston, abandoned interest and the project has laid dormant since. By comparing the routes at high speeds rather than the 70 or 80 mph averages typically proposed by the investment-weary states, the ultimate advantages of the different routes can be more easily discerned.

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