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Amtrak Maple Leaf train

Toronto
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7 posts
51 reviews
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Amtrak Maple Leaf train

I just took the Maple Leaf both ways from Toronto to Rhinecliff, New York, and back again. The postings here were very helpful. Here are my observations:

Book Business Class. It's only $25 more each way. You get more seat space and you're right next to the cafe car, such as it is. Also free Perrier! There are electrical outlets for every seat in Business Class if you want to plug in a laptop or whatever.

Bring your own food. It's a cafe car, not a dining car. The food is all pre-packaged. The cheese and crackers tray is OK, but the burgers and sandwiches are just popped into the microwave. There are chips, candy bars, juice and booze available as well.

Border crossing at Niagara Falls (both Ontario and New York State): expect a 2 hour delay each way. The train crew changes and the cafe car is restocked. You cannot get off the train and you can't use any electronic devices while the customs inspection is taking place. On the way back, we went through it twice: once on the American side and again on the Canadian side.

Air conditioning: it's too cool for me. I brought a Pashmina shawl and that was perfect for wrapping up in.

Scenery: it's not really interesting until after Buffalo. When the train turns south at Albany, then you are following the Hudson River and that is quite scenic.

It is a long trip but I found it quite relaxing. I only went as far as Rhinecliff NY, so I can't speak about the trip all the way to New York.

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New York
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Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls
Ontario, Canada
Ontario
Ontario
Canada
West Grey, Ontario
Destination Expert
for Toronto
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1. Re: Amtrak Maple Leaf train

Hi LJY;

Did your trains keep to schedule ?

If NOT, how delayed were they ?

Best Regards

Toronto
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7 posts
51 reviews
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2. Re: Amtrak Maple Leaf train

The train was on time going south to New York, at least as far as Rhinecliff. We were an hour late coming back to Toronto. The schedule claimed we would be in by 7:30 pm but it was 8:30 before we arrived.

There is also a guide to the route that you can consult at:

www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer…

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New York
New York
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Newcastle upon...
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3. Re: Amtrak Maple Leaf train

When we took the Maple Leaf from Toronto to New York on July 25 we were into Penn at 9.45, 15 minutes early by the revised schedule that seems to be operating at present.

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New York
New York
United States
Ontario, Canada
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95 posts
8 reviews
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4. Re: Amtrak Maple Leaf train

Hello:) I am from Toronto but have been suggested to drive to Buffalo and take the Amtrak from there to NYC...would this avoid the 2 hr customs delay??? Any other suggestions? Thanks, great advice!

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Ottawa, Canada
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5. Re: Amtrak Maple Leaf train

TO LUWEBBY,

<< would this avoid the 2 hr customs delay??? >>

LOL, PERHAPS for you, BUT not necessarily for the train.

The train must stop at the Border and the whole train and every passenger and crew member on board must be met by Customs and interviewed. Then the Canadian Crew disembarks, and the American Amtrak Crew comes aboard, and the set-up (ie Cafe Car etc) is undertaken.

Meanwhile, over at the NY State side, you'll be waiting in the train station with a ticket printed with a "departure time"... be aware this is just a Guideline... no one can actually predict when Customs will release the train.

Somedays will take two hours, some days shorter, some days longer... it all depends on what the Customs Agents have to deal with in that particular day (ie Do all the passengers have the proper paperwork? etc).

Anyways, you might not end up waiting 2 Hours, but I am guessing that you'll find you'll be waiting sometime vs the one printed on your ticket (best case scenario being the time printed on the ticket).

Best of Luck,

Cheers!

Wine-4-2

Ontario, Canada
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95 posts
8 reviews
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6. Re: Amtrak Maple Leaf train

Thank you so much for clarifying that for me. There is an Amtrak route (Empire Service) that leaves directly from the U.S side (Niagara Falls, NY) so there is no border crossing with that route. I think this was the one that was suggested to me. I will look into it...thanks again!

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Toronto, Canada
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7. Re: Amtrak Maple Leaf train

Yep, that is true. The Empire and Lake Shore Limited don't cross the border and therefore can't be delayed by customs. That said, if the possibility of a two-hour delay really bothers you, the train may not be a good way to travel to NYC. I don't think any of these routes are known for their timeliness.

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Victoria BC
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10 posts
36 reviews
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8. Re: Amtrak Maple Leaf train

The comments on this forum pretty much reflect the experience my wife and I had. We took the train out of Penn Station. It was already running about 1 1/2 hours late when we reached upstate New York, but subsequently made up some time. We lost 2 hours at the Canadian border, with everyone being evacuated from their car but not being allowed to leave the train.

As noted, the snack bar is very limited. The service is friendly but not enthusiastic. However, the worst thing was the state of the toilets, which got worse and smellier as the trip went on. Since there are washrooms on each car, this detracted considerably from the trip.

On the plus side, the scenery was good and obviously there is more leg room than on buses.

We got off at Oakville, with the train at about 1 1/2 hours behind schedule.

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Oakville
Oakville
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9. Re: Amtrak Maple Leaf train

When crossing the border both ways, does everyone get off the train, or do the customs and immigration officers come on board and then check everyone? If they do come on board, what do they check?

Ottawa, Canada
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10. Re: Amtrak Maple Leaf train

TO RRMARON,

For the Customs portion of this trip, it is like any other Border Crossing Experience... Paperwork (Passports, Visas if Required). And the usual Questions... Do you have anything to declare, where are you from, where are you going, etc.

For more info see the CANADA - TRAVELLER ARTICLE entitled "Crossing the Border" = tripadvisor.com/Travel-g153339-s602/Canada:C…

Cheers!

Wine-4-2