Toronto Skyline

Amtrak Returns to Canada for the First Time Since 2020

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Good news for those who want to travel from New York City to Toronto, Canada this summer. After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Amtrak resumes train service to Canada aboard the scenic Maple Leaf train. 

This week, Toronto, Ontario welcomed the arrival of the Amtrak Maple Leaf back to Union Station.

Toronto Skyline
Arriving by train into Toronto.

Amtrak Resumes Train Service to Canada After Two-Year Halt

The first northbound Amtrak train to Toronto, Canada since 2020 departed from Moynihan Hall Penn Station in New York City on June 27 at 7:16a.m., and arrived into Toronto Union Station on time at 7:43p.m. 

Heading south from Toronto, Canada to New York City, the Maple Leaf departed from Toronto Union Station at 8:20a.m. on Tuesday, June 28. The train is scheduled to arrive into Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station at 9:55p.m.

Amtrak worked in conjunction with VIA Rail Canada, Canada’s national rail service, NYSDOT and other agencies for the long-anticipated return of Amtrak train service between the U.S. and Canada. In this case, Toronto, the bustling Canadian city on Lake Ontario. 

The route of the Maple Leaf is nothing less than beautiful, especially in the fall when the leaves change colors. From New York City to Toronto, Canada, the train follows along the shores of the Hudson River. The view of the river is on the left side of the train.

Hudson Bay shoreline seen from Amtrak train
Hudson Bay shoreline in New York state.

After leaving the Hudson River shoreline, the train enters scenic New York wine country and the Finger Lakes region. Riding along the shore of Lake Ontario, Amtrak includes stops at Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo. The Maple Leaf makes two stops at Niagara Falls; once on the U.S. side and then on the Canadian side of the Falls. 

The spectacular scenery continues all the way along the western shore of Lake Ontario into the historic Toronto Union Station. 

“Amtrak is delighted to welcome passengers back on board the Maple Leaf, connecting New York City and upstate New York with Toronto and Ontario,” said Amtrak Executive Vice President, Marketing and Revenue, Chief Commercial Officer Roger Harris.

“On board the Maple Leaf, customers can experience some of the best views in the country through the beautiful Hudson River Valley, New York’s wine country, and the incredible gorges of the Finger Lakes region, before crossing the US/Canadian border near the dramatic spectacle of Niagara Falls.”

“VIA Rail is delighted to collaborate with Amtrak in restoring this very important service that connects our two great countries,” said Michael Acosta, VIA Rail’s Senior Director, Commercial Affairs. “After two years of pandemic, people are eager to travel again this summer, and the Maple Leaf experience allows passengers on both sides of the border to book a beautiful vacation and travel beyond Toronto on VIA Rail trains that can connect them right across Canada.”

What to Expect on Board the Amtrak Maple Leaf 

No matter which direction you choose to travel, passengers will find the same amenities on the Maple Leaf as are found on all other Amtrak trains. This includes Free Wifi (where available), spacious Business Class seats, cell phone and the use of personal electronic devices with no “airplane mode’ needed!

You can travel with your small pets, too, following Amtrak’s pet travel guidelines. There’s a café car, generous-sized coach seats with no middle seat and plenty of leg room. 

What Documents Do You Need to Cross the Canadian and U.S. Borders?

According to Amtrak’s site, “in addition to the standard entry documentation requirements, the Canadian and United States Governments have several additional requirements for travel into Canada and the United States.”

US Canada Border Crossing New York
US Canada Border Crossing from New York into Canada by train.

Make sure your U.S. Passport doesn’t expire for at least 6 months prior to your return border crossing. Here are the rules and regulations as of this post’s published dated.

Canada and U.S. Border Crossing Health Requirements

  • Travel into United States: Non-U.S. citizen passengers must be fully vaccinated with a U.S.FDA or a WHO approved COVID-19 vaccine. Details are available on the United States Department of Homeland Security website.
  • Travel into Canada: All passengers must use the ArriveCAN app before travel. Passengers are also required to wear a mask in Canadian train stations and on board trains while traveling through Canada. Non-Canadian citizens must be fully vaccinated and carry the vaccination record that was uploaded into ArriveCAN. Details are available on the Government of Canada and Viarail websites.

In addition to standard entry documentation requirements, the governments of the U.S. and Canada have several additional requirements customers must follow. This is for entry into Canada and the United States as it relates to mask requirements.

When Will Amtrak Resume Service to Montreal and Vancouver?

Now that there’s an Amtrak train to Toronto, the train line is working to also restore its service to two more cities in Canada;  Montréal and Vancouver. The details surrounding when there will be an Amtrak train to Montréal and Vancouver haven’t been worked out yet, but we’ll post it here as soon as it happens.

Speaking of Amtrak trains to Vancouver, Canada, I’ve ridden Amtrak Cascades from Portland, Oregon to Vancouver, BC for many Alaska cruise departures. From New York, I’ve taken the Adirondack train from New York to Montréal and back. 

Both are awesome train rides. It’s so much easier to cross the border by train than driving across the U.S. and Canada border. Taking the train to or from Canada is also  easier than taking the dedicated Amtrak bus that’s currently being used and has been an option in the past. I’ve done both train, bus and driving and the train wins every time.

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