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Amtrak restores passenger train service to Toronto, more than two years after shutting it down due to the pandemic

Niagara_Falls_new_Amtrak_station.jpg
WBFO file photo
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Niagara Falls, NY Amtrak station

For more than two years, Amtrak has listed its service to Toronto from New York City, through Western New York, as a project to be eventually re-started. That changes Monday, as a train runs past Niagara Falls, New York and on to Toronto

Passengers will still have to meet Canada’s strict and complicated rules for crossing the border, including use of the ArriveCAN software to notify the Dominion that person is coming. Tomorrow, passengers will learn what the rules are to come from Canada into the US.

Restarting the service is being approved by passenger rail supporters. Bruce Becker is a former president of the Empire State Passenger Association. He said ridership across Upstate New York has been rising and this will help.

“Amtrak has added extra cars on the trains that have been serving Western New York over the last number of months," Becker said. "Ridership across Upstate New York doing very well and, in fact, for at least two or three months running, ridership across Upstate is higher than it was in the comparable months back in 2019, pre-Pandemic.”

Becker said those who have been riding Amtrak are seeing the tens of millions of dollars New York has put into new stations along the line between New York City and Niagara Falls.

“The new station in Downtown Buffalo at Exchange Street is beautiful. Ridership out of Downtown Buffalo is growing and it's a good sign," Becker said. "More people are using Amtrak, to and from Buffalo, taking advantage of the convenience and the beautiful new station.”

What supporters of passenger rail service have been pushing for much faster trains, with speeds like the top speed of 110-miles per hour from near Amsterdam toward New York City.

Becker said Washington is almost ready to release an environmental study, in the works for 13 years.

“The Federal Railroad Administration has committed to releasing that study during 2022 and their current dashboard is already somewhat out-of-date but targeting a final release sometime this summer," he said.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.