Governor Kathy Hochul is pledging to improve passenger rail service across the State — including high-speed “Acela-style service” from New York City to Montreal by end of her first full term in 2026. That service would take passengers from Penn Station to Montreal’s Central Station in four hours, with stops in Yonkers, Poughkeepsie, Albany, Saratoga Springs, Lake George, and Plattsburgh.
As Amtrak‘s $1.5 billion procurement of next-generation Acela trains comes online in 2023, Hochul wants current Acela trains to be repurposed for the new Montreal route in order to accelerate the project’s timeline. Those trains are barely 20 years old, but would require improvements to existing tracks — including the installation of an overhead electrification system. Those improvements would cost between $3 billion and $4 billon and would improve average traveling speeds, perhaps as high as 150 miles per hour with current-generation trains.
Passengers traveling from New York City to Albany — one of Amtrak’s busiest routes with a potentially lucrative clientele of politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists, and those with business at the Capitol — could enjoy reduced travel times from 2.5 hours to well under two hours.
Hochul is open to funding track improvements if Amtrak commits to making at least $3 billion in train procurements from production facilities located in New York State — likely including factories in Hornell and Plattsburgh. Upstate Republicans in the State Legislature have expressed support for the plan, which is intended to increase long term commerce between the New York and Quebec.
“This is all current technology and can be reliably deployed at scale for a reasonable cost, and would provide a long-enduring public benefit to the State’s economy,” one Hochul operative explains. “In addition to enhancing New York City’s economic reach into French Canada, this infrastructure will also enhance Upstate New York’s reach into New York City as well.”
“Amtrak will be on board,” she adds. “This will be a profitable route.”
Montreal to New York City airline routes are some of the region’s busiest.