The Maple Leaf

The name Maple Leaf was first used as the service name of the Grand Trunk Western Railroad (now Canadian National) passenger train between Dearborn Station in Chicago, Illinois and Union Station in Toronto, Ontario. It used the GTW trackage through Sarnia, ON, Battle Creek, MI, and South Bend, IN. This route between Chicago, IL (Union Station) and Port Huron, MI (across the border from Sarnia, ON) is still serviced by the Amtrak Blue Water service today. Maple Leaf was later applied to a joint overnight Toronto, ON to New York City, NY service by Lehigh Valley Railroad (defunct since 1976, mostly absorbed by Conrail, which later was split by CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern) and Canadian National until 4 February 1961 when the train last ran.

GTW Maple Leaf at Dearborn Station

Today’s Maple Leaf was reintroduced on 26 April 1981, 20 years after the train had previously operated. It operates daily and is one of the three international intercity services offered by Amtrak (the other two being the daily Montréal to New York Adirondack and the twice-daily Vancouver to Washington State Cascades) between the US and Canada. The train served Grand Central Terminal in New York until 1991 when it was rerouted to Pennsylvania Station. The full journey takes 12 hours and 30 minutes with 20 intermediate stops including 2 hours scheduled for border crossing at Niagara Falls where officials come onboard the train and clear passengers for customs. The Maple Leaf, together with other trains to New York, is required to change locomotive at Albany, NY to the dual mode electro-diesel GE Genesis P32AC-DM to accommodate the restriction on diesel locomotives in Pennsylvania Station (same restriction applies to Grand Central).

Amtrak Maple Leaf in the 1980s

Amtrak Maple Leaf crossing the US/Canada border

Sign at Union Station concourse for the Maple Leaf

Unlike the Adirondack and the Cascades which are exclusively Amtrak, the Maple Leaf is jointly operated by Via Rail Canada and Amtrak using Amtrak rolling stock. The train is operated by Via Rail crews in Canada as Train 97/8 (Amtrak Train 64/3 in US) and called at 4 Via Rail stations between Niagara Falls and Toronto. The typical consist of the Maple Leaf include a GE Genesis locomotive (P42DC or P32AC-DM), 1 Amfleet I café/business class car, and 4 Amfleet II coach class cars.

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