Cancelling the International

It’s probably the first time that long-haul passenger service between two large cities has been discontinued in favour of better local service, but that’s just what Amtrak and VIA have done: they’ve discontinued the Chicago-to-Toronto “International” and replaced it with local services whose schedules do not coincide: Amtrak with a service between Port Huron, Michigan and Chicago that leaves early in the morning and returns in the evening; VIA with a Sarnia-to-Toronto train that more or less replicates the old train.

Usually the traffic between larger centres supports local service, but it seems that the long border delays between Port Huron and Sarnia were driving everyone batty. VIA is touting its new train as better and more reliable — have they been getting complaints about the Amtrak Superliners? (I took them on that route once; they’re not great.) Amtrak relies on state subsidies from Michigan for that route; they needed to provide better on-time local service to maintain that funding, I gather, and the border delays were no doubt adding to the problems of dodging scheduled freight runs. (A late passenger train loses its priority and just gets later, as I discovered.)

(See previous entry; via forums)