Just keep in mind Amtrak is horrible for delays. That 10 hour trip could easily lengthen. I was supposed to have a 3.5 hour trip from Providence, RI to NYC a couple of Mondays ago that turned into an 8 hour trip, once we finally got on the train. When I got to the station at 1:45 for a 2:20 train and saw 2 Acelas (one that was supposed to leave at 12:50pm) and my train on the board as delayed - I knew it was going to be a horror. They blamed a tree falling on the wiring in CT for the delay. This pretty much happens every time I take Amtrak.
Very interesting article in a recent Time Magazine about the President and his attempt to promote high speed trains in the US similar to the high speed train systems in Japan and parts of Europe.
It seems that one of the problems with the current delays is that the Amtrak trains run on the same tracks as freight trains. The trains themselves are actually not even the main problem, since they don't run at maximum speed now. It's a very interesting article about money, lobbies, politics and transportation. I didn't know so many congressmen are anti-Amtrak since it's a money siphon that mostly works best just in the East Coast corridor between NYC and Washington.
Yeah .... but ..... they don't call VP Biden "Amtrak Joe" because he loves to fly !Edited: 2:45 pm, July 30, 2010
I took that train from Albany to Montreal and all the swithces had to be changed MANUALLY. The conductors had to stop the train, get out, and manually move the levers. Amtrak was having some sort of computer failure. It took many many hours and the immagration stops both on the US and Canadian sides were kind of brutal. The scenery was amazingly beautiful.
Just to clarify - there's only one train departure a day between NYC and Montreal. And the departure is in the morning (both ways). There is no overnight or evening train. And the trip can take 12 to 13 hours with border delays. Utterly ridiculous, IMO :)
As to renting a car and taking it across the border (and back), we do this all the time (Montreal-NYC-Montreal), without any penalties (through Enterprise, Hertz, Discount). I'd be curious to know why it can't be done in the reverse order, as long as you inform them.
It's a beautiful drive, unless it's winter....
My Amtrak experiences in the past year-plus have been far different than evening's. I've even arrived at my destinations ahead of schedule.
That said, the trains between Montreal and NYC don't have a great track record. Amtrak gives the stats for each of its routes:
although the info provided there isn't as useful as it might be because it doesn't tell you the various lengths of delay involved. Amtrak deems a train to be "on time" only if it pulls into a station within 3 minutes of the scheduled arrival time. So you can't tell by looking at that page if the delayed trains arrived 4 minutes or 4 hours late.
There may be a web site that gives more detailed statistics. Perhaps the folks on TA's Train Travel could point you to that.
I recommend Amtrak only when you have a lot of vacation and time on your hands!! I did it regularly when I was younger (translation: less money)because it is only around 125$ both ways in summer and even less in winter. I now fly 90% of the time because one of the last times on my way to NY was 3 1-2 hours late. There wasn't even food left on the train....only booze:)
The redeeming aspect is that the scenery is really beautiful. You have space to move around...you can watch movies on your laptop if you have one...you can have a snack and even a cocktail (!) during the long trip.
I, for one, never recommend the Greyhound buses. There are always problems at the border because you have shady people trying to cross it, more than by train, and we get stuck there because of them. The buses are uncomfortable and not very clean and well kept.
The buses from Mtl to Quebec are much better if you decide to do train from MTL to NY. They are efficient and clean.
Maybe you could do one way Montreal-New York and the other way by plane. That would be my choice.
Lately, Amtrak has actually been good to me (this being relative, anything under 30 minutes late for Amtrak is on time), but I have gotten the old tree on the tracks excuse before. Can't they think of a better excuse, and if there is actually a tree on the tracks how long does it take to move it. A trip from Hartford that should take 3 hours, I got to NYC 5 hours after my scheduled arrival time. I should have walked.
they used a variation this time Bobby - the tree fell but didnt hit the tracks, it hit the wires above the track and took out the electrical system!
It reminds me of when I was at my first job (TV sales assistant) and we werent allowed to tell advertisers that someone paid more money and bought the spot out from under them, so we had to make up stupid excuses like the station's antenna fell over due to a storm, or a kid with a bee bee gun hit the antenna, etc.
If Im in the quiet car, Im happy and always think 10-12 hours is doable, but not if it turns in to 20 hours!
And Litsa, all flights do have an extra 1/2 hour built into the flight time, so they can maintain their on time record. Unfortunately, if there are no delays and your flight could be early, there is never a gate! Whenever the pilot makes the announcement that we're arriving early, Im thinking to myself, "shut up - you're jinxing us." Every darn time - no gate - so its an hour wait anyway.
The common limitation on taking US rental cars into Canada is for Canadian residents. Canadian law doesn't let its residents rent in the US and then drive into Canada. If you're not Canadian, you can normally rent in the US, drive into Canada and back and then return in the US. Obviously, you'd want to confirm this with the car rental agency, but that's the typical situation.
That wasn't some excuse Amtrak made up, evening: throughout the day, CBS radio was reporting on the delays, to both MetroNorth and Amtrak passengers, occasioned by the downed power lines (the trains can't run without electrical power on those extended sections of the tracks). Plus, rail service outside DC had suffered from the same kind of falling tree->downed wire problems.