Vermont Looks To Restore Train Service To Montreal

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(Host) The Shumlin administration is working with officials in Quebec to restore passenger train service to Montreal.

The governor says the ultimate goal is to build high speed rail between the U-S and Canada.

VPR’s John Dillon has more:

(Dillon) Governor Peter Shumlin and Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott met this week with Quebec Premier Jean Charest to discuss a number of issues, including transportation and energy exports.

Shumlin said a top priority of both governments is to allow Amtrak to run all the way to Montreal.

(Shumlin) "We’d like to work together with them to make that happen. As you know, the biggest problem has been problems around customs issues and we all agree that they have got to be resolvable. So we’re going to work together to try to resolve them."

(Dillon) The train now stops south of the international border for customs and security checks. Passengers board a bus for the final leg of the journey to Quebec. Similar issues exist for passengers heading to the U.S. from Montreal.

Shumlin said that travel between the two countries should not be hampered – even in a post-9/11 world dominated by security concerns.

(Shumlin) "We’ve got to see borders like the one between the United States and Canada as a border between friends. And obviously we got to maintain security. But at the same time, if it means that we can’t run passenger rail from New York to Montreal, the terrorists are winning. So we’ve got a figure out a better way."

(Dillon) Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott said he hopes the customs checks on the Vermonter can be similar to the system used for air travelers. He pointed out when people fly to another country they go through customs when they arrive at their destination.

(Scott) "And that’s what we’re somewhat contemplating…. Maybe not stopping the train. But when it stops in Montreal then that would be the customs point. And maybe when it gets across the border then we have another customs point. And that’s been the problem: We can’t just stop at the border and have everyone disembark. That’s the issue."

(Dillon) Governor Shumlin said Quebec premier Charest is also committed to high-speed rail service between New York and Montreal. The plan now calls for the rail line to run through Vermont, with a spur line to Boston.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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