Businesses, lawmakers react to disruption in Amtrak’s Adirondack Line

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Lawmakers and businesses are reacting after Amtrak abruptly cancelled service north of Rensselaer on the Adirondack Line. The service change affects trains 68 and 69, the main route to and from Montreal through the North Country.

The company announced the cancellation after its partner, Canadian National, put in place a speed limit of 10 miles per hour when the temperature reaches 86 degrees or higher.

Wednesday in Rensselaer, a train to Montreal on the Adirondack Line was still listed on the departures board. But a customer service agent told NewsChannel 13 that listing was incorrect and the company was working on correcting it.

NewsChannel 13 spoke to several businesses in Saratoga Springs who rely on business from the rail station.

Mario Cardenas and his family opened West Avenue Pizzeria in Saratoga Springs during the pandemic and has found success near the rail station.

“It’s been phenomenal for us,” Cardenas said. “We got a phenomenal response from the community.”

It’s just up the road from the Amtrak Station in Saratoga Springs, where the Adirondack line won’t be passing through for the busy season.

Cardenas says a cut to passengers ending their journey here could affect business. The Adirondack Line restarted just months ago after it stopped during the pandemic.

“You know we’re going to be drawing a lot of people now that the tracks starting next month, we’re drawing a lot of people from downstate to the track, and instead of coming to here, down the road, they’ll be going to Rensselaer,” he said.

Lawmakers are concerned about what could mean a 50% cut in service to the Capital Region.

In a letter to Amtrak Tuesday, Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara (D – Schenectady) cited the Empire State Passengers Association, saying it appeared Canadian National’s new speed limit goes well beyond common industry practices.

But he asked Amtrak to continue Adirondack Line service at least to Saratoga Springs, saying the lack of service would significantly impact tourism.

NewsChannel 13 reached out to Amtrak Tuesday night and again Wednesday to ask why service would not continue north of Rensselaer and south of Canada. Amtrak has not responded to the inquiry. NewsChannel 13 also reached out to Canadian National for a response to whether the regulations go beyond common practice.

A spokesperson said, “During times of intense heat, rail companies implement speed restrictions on various parts of their network to ensure the safety of rail operations due to the risk of thermal expansion.  we also implement similar restrictions during intense cold episodes. Currently, CN is operating on this corridor at a reduced speed.”