- Associated Press - Sunday, July 19, 2015

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - A former Vermont transportation secretary is coming out of retirement to help plan resumption of passenger train service between the northeastern United States and Montreal.

Brian Searles, who retired as transportation secretary in December, is returning to state service part-time to deal with the U.S. and Canadian governments on plans to restore Amtrak service on the northern end of a route that last operated in 1994.

U.S. federal budget cuts last year halted service north of St. Albans, Vermont, and a train that had been called the Montrealer was renamed the Vermonter.

Transportation officials say tentative plans are for a joint U.S.-Canadian facility to be built at the Central Station in Montreal - where both north- and southbound passengers will clear customs.

No target date for completion has been given.

“This has been a goal of the state to get back into Montreal since the mid-1990s,” Searles said. But new hurdles were set up after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which prompted a tightening of security at international borders.

The train, whose southern terminus is Washington, D.C., also serves Connecticut, western Massachusetts, the Connecticut River valley of Vermont and New Hampshire. It’s northbound route turns northwest across Vermont at White River Junction.

Searles said states along the route subsidize the train, adding that it’s hoped Massachusetts and Connecticut will increase their subsidies when the route is reopened to Montreal.

He said that adding a metropolis of 4 million people as the final destination should add value to the route. Searles said he could not provide an estimated date when service to Montreal might resume.

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