Maple Leaf (train)

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Maple Leaf
Whirlpool bridge.jpg
The Maple Leaf crosses the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge, in 1983.
Service typeInternational Inter-city rail
StatusOperating with no international service (truncated)
LocaleNew York State/Golden Horseshoe region, Ontario
First serviceApril 26, 1981
Current operator(s)Amtrak (within US)
Via Rail (within Canada)
StartNew York City, United States
EndToronto, Ontario, Canada
Distance travelled544 mi (875 km)
Average journey time12 hours, 30 minutes (includes time at border control)
Service frequencyDaily each way
On-board services
Class(es)Business and Coach class
Seating arrangementsReserved Coach Seat
Business Class Seat
Catering facilitiesOn-board café
Baggage facilitiesCarry-on baggage only
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Track owner(s)Amtrak
Metro North
CSX Transportation
Canadian National
Timetable number(s)63, 64 (Amtrak)
97, 98 (Via)

The Maple Leaf is an international passenger train service operated by Amtrak and Via Rail between Pennsylvania Station in New York City and Union Station in Toronto via the Empire Corridor. Daily service is offered in both directions; the 544-mile (875 km) trip takes approximately 12 hours, including two hours for U.S. or Canadian customs and immigration inspection at either Niagara Falls, New York, or Niagara Falls, Ontario. Although the train uses Amtrak rolling stock exclusively, the train is operated by Via Rail crews while in Canada and by Amtrak crews in the United States. Service began in 1981.


Amtrak and Via Rail introduced the Maple Leaf along the Hudson River and Erie Canal on April 26, 1981. The Maple Leaf replaced Buffalo–Toronto connecting service operated by Via and the Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway, the latter of which discontinued passenger service that day. The new Maple Leaf was the first collaboration between the two companies and the first direct New York-Toronto passenger service in a decade, the last being an overnight TH&B, New York Central, and Canadian Pacific Railway train called The Ontarian (Buffalo-Toronto) that ended in 1967. That earlier train began as the Cleveland Limited westbound, with sleeper passengers having a continuous carriage ride (eastbound riders joined the Ohio State Limited for the Buffalo-New York City leg).[1][2] By contrast, the modern Maple Leaf was a unified New York City-Toronto train. There was also a New York City-Toronto train named Maple Leaf operated by the Lehigh Valley Railroad from 1937 until 1961, a train which traveled through northern New Jersey, northeast Pennsylvania and central New York.

The new train employed Amtrak's Amfleet coaches with a dinette car. A 1982 consist included a baggage car, two coaches and a dinette; time spent in customs ranged from thirty minutes to two hours.[3] The new route goes through the two Niagara Falls towns on both sides of the border, before going to Aldershot in Burlington, then Toronto. The prior New York Central trains crossed from Buffalo to Ontario south of the Niagara Falls and made five stops in Ontario before reaching Toronto.[4][5]

An Amtrak crew operates the train in the United States, while a Via Rail crew operates the train in Canada.[6] The crew change takes place in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Because of this need for a crew exchange, the Maple Leaf was led by some of the last EMD F40PH locomotives in Amtrak revenue service. While most Amtrak routes outside the Northeast Corridor had switched to the GE Genesis by 2000, it had not been added to the Maple Leaf owing to the Via Rail crews' unfamiliarity with the unit. The Maple Leaf retained the F40PH until Via received its own Genesis locomotives in 2002.[7]: 107 

The Maple Leaf is one of four New York Amtrak routes that are primarily state-funded with the others being the Adirondack, Empire Service, and Ethan Allen Express. Primary funding for these routes is from the New York State Department of Transportation rather than federal funding.

In March 2020, Maple Leaf service west of Niagara Falls, New York was suspended indefinitely after all non-essential travel across the Canada-United States border was banned in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.[8][9] Via did not provide alternate service on the Canadian side of the border; as of February 2021, the Toronto-Niagara Falls leg is listed as "cancelled until further notice."[10] GO Transit still operates seasonal weekend trains to Niagara Falls, Ontario from Toronto Union Station year-round,[11] (which has since increased to daily service) although these do not stop at Grimsby.

2013 terror plot[edit]

In 2013, the Maple Leaf was the target of a failed terror plot involving an attempt by two men, both permanent residents of Canada, who sought to derail the train as it crossed a bridge over the Twenty Mile Creek near Jordan, Ontario. The two men were allegedly affiliates of an Al-Qaeda group operating out of Iran.[12][13][14]

Route details[edit]

Amtrak Maple Leaf (interactive map)

In the United States, the Maple Leaf shares the route of the Empire Service, Amtrak's corridor service along the former main line of the New York Central Railroad. Prior to the completion of the Empire Connection in 1991, the Maple Leaf originated at Grand Central Terminal in New York instead of Penn Station.[15] In Canada, the service shares the route of the GO Transit Lakeshore West commuter rail line.

VIA Maple Leaf sign at Toronto Union Station

The Maple Leaf operates over Metrolinx and Canadian National Railway trackage in Canada, and CSX Transportation, Metro-North Railroad, and Amtrak trackage in the United States.

Amtrak numbers the train as 63 northbound and 64 southbound, while Via numbers it as 97 southbound and 98 northbound. Via brands the Toronto-Niagara Falls leg as part of its Corridor services.[citation needed]

Northbound trains leave New York after the morning rush, arriving in Syracuse at noon, crossing into Canada during the afternoon rush and arriving in Toronto in early evening. Southbound trains leave Toronto after the morning rush, cross into the United States just after noon and arrive in New York in mid-evening. Trains stop for two hours for customs procedures in Niagara Falls, Ontario northbound and Niagara Falls, New York southbound.

Station stops[edit]

State/Province Town/City Station Connections
Ontario, Canada Toronto Union Station GO Transit (rail): Barrie, Kitchener, Milton, Lakeshore East, Lakeshore West, Richmond Hill, Stouffville
GO Transit (bus): 16, 18, 21, 31, 61, 63, 65, 71, 90
Toronto Transit Commission (subway): Line 1, 509, 510
Toronto Transit Commission (bus): 6, 72, 97, 120, 121, 310, 320
Union Pearson Express
Via Rail: Canadian, Corridor
Oakville Oakville GO Transit (rail): Lakeshore West
GO Transit (bus): 18, 20, 46
Oakville Transit: 1, 4, 5, 10, 11, 13, 14/14A, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 24, 26, 28, 120, 121, 190
Via Rail: Corridor
Burlington Aldershot Burlington Transit: 1x
GO Transit (rail): Lakeshore West
GO Transit (bus): 15, 18
Hamilton Street Railway: 18
Via Rail: Corridor
Grimsby Grimsby
St. Catharines St. Catharines GO Transit (rail): Lakeshore West
St. Catharines Transit: 303, 315, 415
Niagara Falls, Ontario Niagara Falls, Ontario GO Transit (rail): Lakeshore West
GO Transit (bus): 12
Niagara Falls Transit: 102, 104, 108, 204
WEGO: Green Line
Canada–United States border
New York, United States Niagara Falls, New York Niagara Falls, New York Amtrak: Empire Service
Buffalo Buffalo–Exchange Street Amtrak: Empire Service, Thruway Motorcoach to Jamestown, New York
NFTA: Buffalo Metro Rail
Depew Buffalo–Depew Amtrak: Empire Service, Lake Shore Limited
Rochester Rochester
Syracuse New York State Fair Train only stops during fair
Syracuse Amtrak: Empire Service, Lake Shore Limited
CENTRO: 16, 48, 50, 60, 62, 70, 82, 236, 246, 250
Rome Rome Amtrak: Empire Service
Utica Utica Adirondack Scenic Railroad: to Thendara, New York
Amtrak: Empire Service, Lake Shore Limited
CENTRO: 15, 31
Amsterdam Amsterdam Amtrak: Empire Service
Schenectady Schenectady Amtrak: Adirondack, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express, Lake Shore Limited
CDTA: 351, 353, 354, 355, 370, 763, 905 (BusPlus)
Rensselaer Albany–Rensselaer Amtrak: Adirondack, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express, Lake Shore Limited
CDTA: 114, 214
Hudson Hudson Amtrak: Adirondack, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express
Rhinecliff Rhinecliff–Kingston Amtrak: Adirondack, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express
Poughkeepsie Poughkeepsie Amtrak: Adirondack, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express
Dutchess LOOP: A, B, C, D, E, Poughkeepsie RailLink
UCAT Ulster-Poughkeepsie LINK
Metro-North Railroad: Hudson Line
Croton-on-Hudson Croton–Harmon Amtrak: Adirondack, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express, Lake Shore Limited
Bee-Line: 10, 11, 14
Metro-North Railroad: Hudson Line
Yonkers Yonkers Amtrak: Adirondack, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express
Bee-Line: 6, 9, 25, 32, 91 (seasonal service)
Metro-North Railroad: Hudson Line
New York City Penn Station Amtrak: Acela Express, Adirondack, Cardinal, Carolinian, Crescent, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express, Keystone Service, Lake Shore Limited, Northeast Regional, Palmetto, Pennsylvanian, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter
LIRR: Main Line, Port Washington Branch
NJ Transit: North Jersey Coast Line, Northeast Corridor Line, Gladstone Branch, Montclair-Boonton Line, Morristown Line
NYC Subway: 1, ​2, ​3, A, ​C, and ​E trains
Metropolitan Transportation Authority buses: M7, M20, M34 / M34A Select Bus Service, Q32
PATH: HOB-33, JSQ-33, JSQ-33 (via HOB)


Amtrak locomotive #106 pushing its train east through Toronto's Mimico GO Station.

The Maple Leaf operates year-round with an Amtrak GE P42DC or P32AC-DM locomotive and Amfleet I & II passenger cars. A typical consist will include:

  • 1 P42DC or P32AC-DM locomotive
  • 1 Amfleet I Cafe/'Businessclass' car
  • 3 Amfleet II 'Coachclass' cars
  • 1-2 Amfleet I 'Coachclass' car

Between Albany and New York, the train is always pulled by a P32AC-DM dual-mode locomotive, since diesel operation is prohibited in New York Penn Station. The train switches "on-the-fly" to third rail when it enters the Penn Station tunnel. Typically, the P32AC-DM is swapped for a P42DC diesel locomotive in Albany. Occasionally, the P32AC-DM locomotive will stay on the train all the way to Toronto.

An extra Amfleet I car is added to the Maple Leaf consist during the Christmas shopping rush to handle additional demand.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Streamliner Schedules, "The Ontarian" timetable, plus consists for other NYC trains of the period with routes from and to Toronto
  2. ^ New York Central timetable, November 5, 1967, final timetable with Ontarian
  3. ^ Malcolm, Andrew H. (February 14, 1982). "New York to Toronto Train". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-26.
  4. ^ Streamliner Schedules, "The Ontarian" timetable, plus consists for other NYC trains of the period with routes from and to Toronto
  5. ^ New York Central timetable, November 5, 1967, final timetable with Ontarian
  6. ^ "Amtrak's new Toronto-NY line fills 10-year void; may be a winner". Miami News. April 28, 1981. Retrieved 2010-07-26.
  7. ^ Solomon, Brian (2004). Amtrak. Saint Paul, Minnesota: MBI. ISBN 978-0-7603-1765-5.
  8. ^ "Service Adjustments Due to Coronavirus" (Press release). Amtrak. 2020-03-24. Archived from the original on 2020-03-25. Retrieved 2020-03-25.
  9. ^ Dickson, Jane (March 18, 2020). "Canada-U.S. border to close except for essential supply chains". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  10. ^ "TRAVEL ADVISORY | VIA Rail".
  11. ^ "Niagara Weekend GO Train Service | Promotions & Events | GO Transit". Retrieved 2020-09-16.
  12. ^ Rocha, Euan; Alastair Sharp (22 April 2013). "Canada thwarts "al Qaeda-supported" passenger train plot". Reuters Canada. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
  13. ^ Macdonald, Alaistair; Siobhan Gorman; David George-Cosh (22 April 2012). "Canada Thwarts Alleged Plot to Attack Train". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
  14. ^ "Jordan train bridge reportedly target of thwarted terror plot". Retrieved 2014-01-26.
  15. ^ "Travel Advisory; Grand Central Trains Rerouted To Penn Station". The New York Times. April 7, 1991. Retrieved 2010-02-07.

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