International Limited

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For the named passenger train operated by the Great Northern Railway, see International (train).
International Limited
19961012 08 Amtrak E. Lansing, MI.jpg
A Via Rail EMD F40PH leads the International, with Amtrak Hi-Level and Superliner coaches into East Lansing in 1996.
Service type Inter-city rail
Status Discontinued
Locale Midwestern United States/Southern Ontario
Predecessor Blue Water (1982)
First service October 31, 1982
Last service April 23, 2004
Successor Blue Water (2004)
Former operator(s) Amtrak/Via Rail
Start Chicago, Illinois
Stops 19
End Toronto, Ontario
Distance travelled 502 mi (808 km)
Average journey time 10 hours 47 minutes
Service frequency Daily
Train number(s)
  • 364, 365, 367 (Amtrak)
  • 88, 85, 685 (Via)
On-board services
Class(es) Reserved coach
Catering facilities On-board cafe
Rolling stock Superliner coaches
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)

The International Limited was a named passenger train operated between Chicago and Toronto. It was originally operated by the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada and its successors the Canadian National Railway and Grand Trunk Western Railroad. 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.[1]


CN/GTW operation[edit]

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 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 13, leaving Montreal and travelling to Chicago, stopping at the same stations along the way. The Chicago-to-Montreal section is shown in the photograph, behind a CNR 5700-class Hudson.

Amtrak did not retain the International Limited and it made its last run on April 30, 1971. It was the last intercity train to depart Dearborn Station in Chicago.[2]:70–71

The International Limited operating on the Grand Trunk Railway ca. 1909

Amtrak/Via operation (International)[edit]

Amtrak and Via Rail revived the International Limited in 1982 by extending Amtrak's Blue Water Limited, which then terminated at Port Huron, to Toronto. In contrast to its predecessor, it used ex-Penn Central trackage west of Battle Creek, Michigan, in common with Amtrak's other Michigan trains. At the beginning, both Amtrak and Via equipment was used; Amtrak typically using diesels and Amfleet coaches, while Via used LRCs and Tempo coaches. The first train departed Chicago on October 31, 1982. On June 13, 1983, Amtrak renamed the train the International, which it carried until its discontinuance.[3]:204–205

Via Rail re-routed the International off its original CN route in 1990 to a more northerly route. This new route enabled it to service Kitchener, Ontario, but added an hour to its running time. Toward the end of the decade, Amtrak considered running the train via Durand and Detroit, dropping Flint and Port Huron, but nothing came of this proposal.[3]:205–206

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 of 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 Superliners.

Signage at the Flint station denoting the current Blue Water destination and International Limited destination

In later years, Amtrak P42 locomotives replaced the F40s. In 2002, they mainly consisted of only Horizon Fleet and Amfleet coaches, because the Superliners were in for extensive renovation. The train was discontinued in 2004 due to falling ridership. Via Rail still runs trains on the Corridor route between Toronto and Sarnia, Ontario, while Amtrak replaced its portion of the service with the Chicago-Port Huron, Michigan with the Blue Water.


  1. ^ Michigan Department of Transportation. "MDOT Rail Statistics: Annual Ridership Summary". Retrieved 2006-09-16. 
  2. ^ Holland, Kevin J. (2001). Classic American Railroad Terminals. Osceola, WI: MBI. ISBN 9780760308325. OCLC 45908903. 
  3. ^ a b Sanders, Craig (2006). Amtrak in the Heartland. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-34705-X. OCLC 61499942. 


  • Geletzke, Charles H. (May 2004). "Grand Trunk Western 6400s in Action". CN Lines: 17–20. 
  • Hediger, Jim; Andy Sperandeo (May 2003). "8 Pike-Size Passenger Trains". Model Railroader. Kalmbach Publishing. pp. 48–53. 
  • Holland, Kevin J (May 2004). "The Streamlined 6400s". CN Lines: 10–16. 

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