Montreal is one of Canada's most compelling destination cities, charming visitors from all over the world with its cosmopolitan culture, cobblestone streets and striking architectural monuments. Though it's less than 50 miles from the U.S.–Canada border, Francophone Montreal's European vibe makes visitors from elsewhere in North America feel they're a world away from home, but with the advantage of the ability to travel there by land via rail pass or bus ticket instead of air or sea. Using VIA Rail Canada routes and Amtrak services stateside, it's technically possible to get to Montreal by train ticket from almost every major city in the United States and Canada. However, starting your journey in the general vicinity of Quebec Province and at a station on a direct line to city center or downtown Montreal makes for a considerably easier, quicker and more enjoyable train ride.
Montreal by Train From the United States
As of 2018, there is only one direct rail connection train trip from anywhere in the United States to Montreal: Amtrak train’s Adirondack line originating at Penn Station in New York City. The full train journey from New York City to Montreal takes 10 hours, departing at 8:15 a.m. and arriving at Montreal's Central Station at 7:11 p.m. However, delays are common in train travel, and the time it takes to complete immigration procedures at the international border is often unpredictable. The train features a cafe car and has Wi-Fi.
The Adirondack route is famously scenic, taking you through the beautiful Hudson Valley and Adirondack Mountains, both areas especially spectacular during fall. Between May and October, select journeys offer on-board narratives by National Park Service rangers as part of the Trails and Rails program. On its way to Montreal, the train stops at 16 stations in upstate New York, including Poughkeepsie, Hudson, Saratoga Springs and Ticonderoga, and one station in Quebec, St-Lambert.
When you book tickets on Amtrak's Adirondack train service, you are required to provide information about your passport or other form of ID you will use to enter Canada and re-enter the United States. Amtrak sends the information to immigration authorities in advance. If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, research the applicable entry requirements before your trip. Amtrak advises passengers to arrive at their station of departure at least 30 minutes before the train is scheduled to leave. Travelers who are not U.S. or Canadian citizens should allow at least an hour.
Montreal by Train From Other Canadian Cities
VIA Rail Canada operates seven lines directly linking Montreal with other cities in Canada, as well as connecting lines that make it possible to reach Montreal from the larger cities in Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. There are six daily departures on the Toronto-Montreal line, which takes an average of five hours and eight minutes and stops at Ottawa and Kingston in Ontario along the way. The Ottawa-Montreal train takes approximately two hours. VIA Rail's Montreal-Quebec City trains, which depart five times per day, take an average of three hours, 17 minutes, with no stops.
VIA Rail Canada operates several long-distance train routes that end in Montreal. You can take a direct train from Jonquiere in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec, leaving in the morning and reaching Montreal eight hours and 55 minutes later. The train ride to Montreal from Senneterre in northwestern Quebec takes 11 hours and 25 minutes, with one daily departure in the morning. Even longer routes available are the 17-hour, 31-minute train from Moncton, New Brunswick, and the Ocean line, a 22-hour ride to Montreal from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Sleeper cars are a comfortable option available for these overnight journeys.
You can purchase Amtrak and VIA Rail Canada tickets online using the companies' mobile apps, over the phone or at a train station. When you book Amtrak tickets online, you have the option to sign up for delay alerts.
Amtrak offers discounts for AAA members, students, military, seniors and kids. Sign up to its email list to learn about special offers. VIA Rail Canada also offers discounts for students and youth, seniors 60-plus and children. Also check bus companies such as Greyhound who may be able to provide a transportation link between train companies or locations before booking your next trip.