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News Wire: Amtrak inspection train travels 'Montrealer' route

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Posted by Brian Schmidt on Wednesday, July 19, 2017 8:51 AM

ST. ALBANS, Vt. — An Amtrak inspection trip ran today from St. Albans to Montreal over the normally freight only Swanton Subdivision of both New England Central and Canadian National. Montrealer service ended in 1995 and more than two dozen ra...

http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2017/07/18-amtrak-montrealer

Brian Schmidt, Assistant Editor Trains magazine

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Posted by 54light15 on Saturday, July 22, 2017 12:48 PM

Didn't the Montrealer have a piano in the bar car? Was it the only train that did? 

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Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Saturday, July 22, 2017 3:51 PM

It did have a piano bar. I'm trying to remember if auto train Corp, had piano bar, I remember for sure it has recreation car, that played movies.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, July 22, 2017 4:29 PM

54light15

Didn't the Montrealer have a piano in the bar car? Was it the only train that did? 

The first generation Superliners originally had a small piano in the lower level of the sightseer lounge car.............not sure what happened to it.    I don't think it was a real piano I think it was electronic.

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Posted by JPS1 on Saturday, July 22, 2017 10:45 PM

CMStPnP

 

 
54light15

Didn't the Montrealer have a piano in the bar car? Was it the only train that did? 

 

 

The first generation Superliners originally had a small piano in the lower level of the sightseer lounge car.............not sure what happened to it.    I don't think it was a real piano I think it was electronic. 

https://history.amtrak.com/archives/piano-lounge-in-a-sightseer-lounge-car-1980s

 

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

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Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Sunday, July 23, 2017 7:21 AM

JPS1

 

 
CMStPnP

 

 
54light15

Didn't the Montrealer have a piano in the bar car? Was it the only train that did? 

 

 

The first generation Superliners originally had a small piano in the lower level of the sightseer lounge car.............not sure what happened to it.    I don't think it was a real piano I think it was electronic. 

 

https://history.amtrak.com/archives/piano-lounge-in-a-sightseer-lounge-car-1980s

 

 

wow thanks for the information!!

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, July 23, 2017 8:18 AM

[quote user="54light15"]

Didn't the Montrealer have a piano in the bar car? Was it the only train that did? 

 

[/quote above]

Several heritage Amtrak lounge cars had electric pianos.  In the late 1980's(?) used the Crescent to Atlanta for an American Guild of Organists convention.  A whole bunch of worship-space musicians, mostly but not entirely organists and choirmasters, wanted space, and the train had extra sleepers and coaches and two lounge cars, one with the electric piano.  So all evening there were hymns sung with different people taking turns doing th accompaniment.  And at one point, one of my best client-friends, said;  "Dave, how about some Jewish music," or something similar.  I was brave enough to sit on the bench and belt out with voice and the keys some Passover hymns, including Had Gad Ya (Actually more Aramaic than Hebrew, One only Kid) and Ekhad Mi Yodaia, Who Knows One.  And Hanukah and Purim.  And some of the others who had both synagogue and church jobs, sang along.  We had a great time.  I think I may have written Graham Claytor a thank-you letter.

On the Montrealer. sometimes it was there and sometimes not. They did try to have a car with it in the consist during the winter skiing season. I think they even called it more than a lounge car, the "Pub Car."

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Posted by NKP guy on Sunday, July 23, 2017 9:31 AM

   A hymn-sing in the lounge car?  How different from one's usual Amtrak experience is that?  And Jewish hymns, too?  Dave, you decribe the scene well.

   One night about 1988 the Capitol Limited had a consist that included a lounge car;  in it was an electric piano.  This car, I was told, usually ran , "on the Florida trains."

   My class of high school juniors was with me, and one of my female students earned about $40 in tips that evening by playing cocktail piano music for other passengers.

   Interestingly enough, she's a Jew, but had she started playing from the Episcopal or her own Hymnal, I believe she would have emptied the car!

   Lesson:  Know your audience!

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Posted by wanswheel on Sunday, July 23, 2017 12:37 PM

Arlo probably sang City of New Orleans on the Montrealer.

https://books.google.com/books?id=3xyL1GHxZksC&pg=PA210&dq=%22endangered+montrealer%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiww-rj_J_VAhWCSD4KHU0-CYoQ6AEIJjAA#v=onepage&q=%22endangered%20montrealer%22&f=true

Washington Post, April 4, 1979 

A Day of Trying to Save the Trains

For days, Terry Flaherty had paced the aisles of the Blue Ridge, a popular Martinsburg-to-Washington commuter train threatened with extinction, asking his fellow passengers for ideas to publicize their plight.

Then just over a week ago, one of them had an idea. "Why not ask Arlo Guthrie to play for a rally?" suggested one woman, who offered to contact the singer-composer.

Yesterday, the day of a congressional hearing on a Transportation Department plan to cut Amtrak service 43 percent nationwide, Guthrie and his seven-piece band, The Shenandoah, responded to the suggestion. On behalf of the Blue Ridge and other threatened trains, Guthrie played a free concert in the concourse of Union Station here at a "Save the Trains" rally.

"Friends of the Railroad," an organization of rail passengers of which Flaherty is president, bought tickets for Guthrie and his band to make the trip from Western Massachusetts. They rode the Montrealer, another train that the legislation would eliminate, down and back yesterday.

As hundreds of balloon-waving train passengers clapped their hands and sang along, Guthrie played his recorded tribute to a train, "The City of New Orleans," improvised version of "I've Been Working on the Railroad," and other traditional train songs.

The 4 p.m. rally was the climax of a day in which railroad passengers bombarded Congress with demands that the proposed reduction in train service be derailed.

Transportation Secretary Brock Adams has argued that the service cutback is essential to reduce the mounting Amtrak deficit and keep his budget in line. The cutbacks would fall most heavily on such long-distance routes as Washington-Montreal, New York-New Orleans, and Chicago-Texas.

Amtrak's Commuter Service—trains like the Blue Ridge—is also targeted for cutbacks.

Adams, whose plan would go into effect Oct. 1 in the absence of legislation preventing it, has said that it is up to the states to provide the subsidies needed to keep commuter trains in operation—or it is up to the passengers to pay high enough fares to meet the operating costs.

Even when the Blue Ridge is completely full, it still loses money, transportation officials say.

Flaherty is director of the Office of Senate Parking. He moved to Harpers Ferry six years ago and quickly discovered that, while it is convenient and pleasant to ride the Blue Ridge train, commuters like him must endure "the recurring suspense" of threatened cancellation.

So yesterday, he and other regular commuters were out in force for a congressional hearing hoping to stave off a threatened shutdown of the Blue Ridge and the Shenandoah.

Three members of Maryland's congressional delegation, Republican Sen. Charles McC. Mathias and Democratic Reps. Beverly Bryon and Barbara Mikulski, joined Flaherty on the early morning commuter train yesterday.

Mathias borded the train at Rockville, where he chatted with Bob Gowers and other regular passengers in the rain outside of the red brick depot.

What with the addition of the congressional commuters, the anticipation of the hearing and the concert, yesterday's trip to Union Station was especially festive. Flaherty paraded up and down the aisles of the nine cars behind a bedsheet banner, urging passengers to attend the hearing before the House subcommittee on Transportation and Commerce.

Barbara Protas, a secretary at the World Bank who also lives in Harpers Ferry, pasted "save the trains" stickers on passengers while clutching her Guthrie album, "Alice's Restaurant," which she hoped to get autographed at the afternoon rally.

At the hearing later in the day, Mikulski asked Transportation Secretary Adams to "defend yourself" about the proposed cutbacks in service.

"I'm not recommending that the Blue Ridge stop," answered Adams, saying that he merely wants the states to subsidize its operation, as Congress ordered last year.

Rep. James J. Florio (D-N.J.), the subcommittee chairman, read a statement by Rep. Harley O. Staggers (D-W.V.), chairman of the full Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce.

Staggers denounced the proposed cutbacks as "sheer folly." Discontinuing the Blue Ridge, he added, would "burden the highways" and add more congestion, pollution and parking problems in Washington.

Bryon was one of many congressional witnesses who said retaining the trains would offset the effects of escalating gasoline prices.

While Adams insisted that "I am for passenger trains," the cabinet secretary said the current Amtrak system is "an energy waster."

The proposed streamlining would save $1.4 billion during the next five years, Adams said, while continuing service for 91 percent of current riders.

Adams' testimony evoked mumbles from the commuters who had jammed the hearing room. Some of them were aware that the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah were the two fastest growing trains in the Amtrak system last year.

As a result of its growing popularity (patronage on the Blue Ridge was up 19.4 percent last year for a total of 256,000 riders) the operating loss was cut from $464,000 to $306,000 last year. It is that amount that DOT wants Maryland and West Virginia to make up.

 

Oklahoma City Oklahoman, April 4, 1979

Lawmakers, Guthrie Blast Rail Cut Plan

WASHINGTON — The administration's plan to cut Amtrak routes, including the Lone Star route through Oklahoma, took a beating Tuesday from congressmen, rail passengers and Arlo Guthrie, the son of Oklahoma's railroad-riding folk hero, Woodie Guthrie, who joined a "Save the Trains’’ rally. None of the Sooner congressmen whose districts are bisected by the Chicago-Houston route joined their House colleagues testifying against the proposal that would reduce the Amtrak system by 43 percent.

Reps. Glenn English, Cordell Democrat, and Mickey Edwards, Oklahoma City Republican, are co-sponsors of a resolution to reject the controversial Amtrak plan which, if approved by Congress, would leave Oklahoma one of five states without passenger train service. English and Edwards say they would rather talk to their colleagues individually than appear before a subcomittee with critical testimony, as more than a dozen of their colleagues did Tuesday. If the president's plan is not rejected by either the House or the Senate by May 15 the route cuts will be effective Oct. 1.

Reps. Tom Steed. Shawnee Democrat, and Wes Watkins, Ada Democrat, also represent districts crossed by the Lone Star route. Both say they still are studying the plan. Aides for the two congressmen said constituent mail has been in favor of keeping the Lone Star route. Oklahoma's senators have taken opposing views of the Amtrak cutbacks. Democrat David Boren says he is disappointed with the recommendation to cut the Lone Star route, but Republican Henry Bellmon says substantial savings can be achieved by reducing Amtrak's schedule.

Secretary of Transportation Brock Adams estimates $1.5 billion can be saved within three years if the plan is approved. English, who sent Adams a critical telegram the morning the Amtrak plan was announced, said the proposal "eliminates the most efficient lines we have."

Boren, English, Edwards, Steed, and Watkins have sent Adams a letter urging him to consider the economic effect of cutting Oklahoma off from Amtrak. "Our state and region are prepared to make sacrifices to help balance the budget, but we do want to be assured that we are not being called upon to do more than our share," the letter reads.

More than a dozen congressmen testified Tuesday against the Amtrak plan in the House Commerce subcommittee on transportation. Commerce Chairman Harley Staggers, D-W.Va., called the passenger trains the "orphan of our national transportation policy" and said the planned cutbacks were "sheer folly.”

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, July 23, 2017 1:45 PM

NKP, you might be interested that I have translated the Shaker Simple Gifts Hymn, "The Gift to be simple is the Gift to be free..." into both Hebrew and Arabic, and sang all three languages to a small audience a the BYU Jerusalem Center.  A good friend who has a government posiiton took me as his guest in the front row center of a cantorial concert by a renown Cantor, and one of the works sung was "Old Man River."  About half way through, I joined him, not on stage but from my seat, and nobody objected, and I do know that song well.  Past 4th of July I did entertain a few young students with railroad songs, Old 97, Chattanooga Choo Choo, and I've been Working on the Railroad.  I think I did include that last one in the lounge car to Atlanta.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Sunday, July 23, 2017 10:13 PM

I had heard that the electric pianos were a target for thieves when the cars sat in the coach yard.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, July 24, 2017 10:01 AM

Suk du blah!   Onto Quebec!!!

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Posted by richg1998 on Monday, July 24, 2017 3:09 PM

That could be very nice. I live near Northampton, Ma and the new Amtrak station is fairly busy at times since Amtrak started coming through this area after many years.

I have talked with some who wished Amtrak would go into Montreal.

A bike trail I ride is right next to the former Union Station. The new platform is nearby with a restaurant at the former station.

Rich

N

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Posted by rcdrye on Monday, July 24, 2017 4:56 PM

I think the plan is still on for a 2018 service resumption.  The chief remaining obstacle is completion of the pre-clearance area at Central Station, which is also required by the Adirondack.

The "Le Pub" (Amtrak 3100-3105) cars that ran in the Montrealer between 1974 and about 1978 were rebuilt US Army hospital cars of Korean War vintage.  Amtrak got them from the Army in early 1973 in virtually unused condition in a GSA move for about $1000 apiece.  A couple of them ended up belonging to NCDOT for Piedmont use (though not as "Le Pub"...)

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