Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Canadian Passenger Trains: The International Limited
The International Limited was a named passenger train operated between Chicago and Toronto, Ontario. It was originally operated by Canadian National and Grand Trunk Western. When the route was revived in 1982, it was operated jointly by Via Rail and Amtrak. The Amtrak service was discontinued on April 25, 2004, due to decreasing ridership: down from 125,126 in 1997 to just 88,045 in 2003.
When the Canadian National and Grand Trunk Western controlled the operations of train number 14, the International Limited, from Chicago's Dearborn Station to Montreal's Central Station, the train was around 12 cars long, including GTW & CNR Baggage-express cars (two), CNR Coaches (five), CNR named 12-1 Pullman Sleepers (three), CNR 8-1-2 named Pullman Sleeper (one), and last but not least, an unusual 2-3-1 Buffet, Lounge, Solarium from the CNR. It departed from Chicago's Dearborn Station at 8:00 pm behind a GTW U4-b 6400 Northern type steam locomotive.
At Port Huron, St. Clair Tunnel Company electrics would pull the train through the tunnel to Sarnia, Ontario, where a CNR 5700 class Hudson (4-6-4 wheel arrangement) or a CNR 6400 class Streamlined Confederation (4-8-4 wheel arrangement) would take the train to Montreal. The 15 hour train ride left Chicago at 8:00 pm and arrived in Montreal at around 11:00 am the next morning. The train left daily stopping at Chicago, Sarnia, Toronto, and Montreal as well as a variety of other stops along the way. A second section operated in the opposite direction as train number, leaving Montreal and travelling to Chicago as, stopping at the same stations along the way running as train number 13. The Chicago to Montreal section is shown in the photograph behind a CNR 5700 class Hudson.
Amtrak/Via operation (International)
When Amtrak and Via Rail respectively took over the operation of the International Limited in 1982, they cut back the route to terminate and originate in Toronto, Ontario, and shifted the route to run between Toronto and Chicago via Sarnia, Port Huron and Battle Creek over GT/CN tracking.
The train consisted of two or three coaches and a food-service / custom class car combination. The train was powered alternately by a Via Rail or an Amtrak F40PH locomotive and the cars could be any combination of Amtrak's Heritage, Amfleet I and II, or Horizon Fleet coaches or by cars provided by Via. From Monday through Saturday, the opposing trains ran as Amtrak-Via train numbers 364 and 365. On Sundays however, they ran as train numbers 366 and 367. By 1995, both trains usually ran with a set of 4 to 5 Superliner.
In later years, Amtrak P42 locomotives replaced the F40s. In 2002, they mainly only consisted of Horizon Fleet and Amfleet coaches because the Superliner's were in for extensive renovation. The train was discontinued in 2004 due to falling ridership. Via Rail still runs trains on the route between Toronto and Sarnia, Ontario, while Amtrak replaced its portion of the service with the Chicago-Port Huron, MI Blue Water.