Montreal, QC (MTR)
895 rue de la Gauchetiere ouest
Montreal, QC H3B 4G1
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 75,150
- Facility Ownership: N/A
- Parking Lot Ownership: N/A
- Platform Ownership: N/A
- Track Ownership: N/A
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
Montreal’s steel and concrete Central Station sits on the grounds once occupied by the now-demolished Canadian Northern Railway’s Northern Tunnel Terminal. When the major railroads in Canada formed the Canadian National Railway in the early 1920s, they struggled to consolidate their operations to one station. Eventually they agreed on the current location, and construction began at the end of the 1920s. After a slight delay due to the Great Depression, the station – named Central Station – opened in July of 1943. While the station itself is at ground level, all of the tracks are below the station.
The building was designed by John Campbell Merrett. While the main concourse is located on Rue de la Gauchetiere West, the structure takes up almost the entire block. Merrett, who studied architecture at McGill University in Montreal and in London, was heavily influenced by the popular architecture styles of the time. The simplicity of his design is typical of the modernist and Art Deco movements. Today the station is almost completely blocked from view by the many larger buildings built around it.
When Canadian Northern decided to build a trans-Canadian railway, it needed a station in Montreal. The city was already congested by the early 20th century, and there was little room for another line in addition to the one run by Canada Pacific. The designers came up with a solution that would make the station unique on the continent. The railroad decided to construct a tunnel nearly three miles long to run underneath the city, finally providing access to the heart of town. This tunnel was designed to connect with a viaduct system that the railroad built throughout the city; it was at this junction that the station was built. By 1967, all of the gaps above the sunken tracks were filled in by developments. During most of the construction atop the tracks, the trains kept running. This served as a testament to the design functionality in urban planning.
While Montreal’s modern history starts in 1534 when Jacques Cartier became the first European to reach the island now known as Montreal, for nearly 7,000 years, the people of the Algonquin, Huron, and Iroquois tribes were living and thriving in what is now Montreal. They defended their land against the encroachments of the French colonists for more than 100 years. However, a permanent fur trading outpost was officially settled in 1639, and the French continued to extend their control of Canada from here.
Until 1763, the French continued to thrive in Montreal. As one of the few fur trading posts in the area, it produced immense riches for those who were hardy enough to fight off almost constant attacks by the Iroquois. After the Seven Years War, however, France was forced to cede all of its Canadian territory to the United Kingdom, and Montreal fell into British hands.
After Montreal was incorporated in 1832, the city’s population and growth exploded. The Lachine Canal permitted ships to travel to Montreal through the previously unnavigable rapids to the south of the island. The city was eventually named as the capitol of the Canadian territories, but the capitol was moved when, in 1849, riots led by Tories burned the Provincial Parliament. Still, the city experienced unmitigated growth for the next hundred years.
During the interwar period, Montreal became a haven for Americans looking to escape the newly enacted prohibition on alcohol. It’s proximity to the border and abundance of gambling, prostitution, and alcohol made it ideal for Americans looking to escape the long arm of the law, earning the city the nickname “Sin City.”
However, Canadians in Montreal also looked over the border for its own benefits. Montreal is located far from the Canadian port cities on the Atlantic and Pacific. The city’s proximity to many waterways connecting to Lake Champlain, and therefore New York City, provided a means for exporting goods throughout the world. The connection between the two cities, first by canal and later by rail, provided many riches for the city, and funded its massive growth throughout much of the 20th century.
Though this tourism and exportation were boons for the city, it was still facing extremely high unemployment. This was only worsened by the Great Depression, which hurt the already ailing Canadian economy. However, Montreal and much of Canada rebounded much sooner than expected, and skyscrapers, including the Sun Life Building, where the gold bullion of the Bank of England and the Crown Jewels were hidden during WWII, began to appear on the Montreal skyline.
Through all this, Montreal has remained one of the centers of population for Canada, and has been often named Canada’s cultural capital. The intersection of English and French traditions has created a cultural experience in Montreal that is as unique. It is home to internationally recognized ballet troupes, theatres, and is renowned for its many, many churches.
Montreal is also home to the largest underground complex in the world. The first tunnel was built in 1962, and construction just continued outward from that first segment. Today, the underground city occupies nearly 4.6 square miles, with nearly 20 miles of tunnels. The underground complexes, both business and commercial, make up almost 1.5 square miles, and account for 80 percent of all business space and 35 percent of all commercial space in downtown Montreal. Nearly 500,000 people use the system through the 120 access points, both to escape Montreal’s heavy traffic and the climactic extremes that affect the city. This underground city has earned Montreal the nickname of the “Double-Decker City.”
This facility has a waiting room and is staffed by VIA Rail Canada employees. The U.S. counterpart to Amtrak provides ticketing and help with baggage at the Montreal station.
Montreal is served by two daily trains. Service on the Adirondack is financed primarily through funds made available by the New York State Department of Transportation.
Image courtesy of VIA Rail
Station Building (with waiting room)
- 80 Short Term Parking Spaces
Number of spaces available for Amtrak passengers to park for the day only not overnight. Parking fees may apply.
- Accessible Payphones
- Accessible Platform
Accessible platform is a barrier-free path from the drop-off area outside the station to the station platform.
- Accessible Restrooms
- Accessible Ticket Office
- Accessible Waiting Room
- Accessible Water Fountain
- Baggage Storage
Baggage storage is an area where passengers may store their bags equivalent to 'left luggage' in Europe. A storage fee may apply.
- Bike Boxes
- Checked Baggage
- Dedicated Parking
- Enclosed Waiting Area
- Help With Luggage
- High Platform
A high platform is a platform at the level of the vestibule of the train with the exception of Superliners.
Self-service lockers are available in select stations for passenger baggage storage
- Long-term Parking Spaces
Number of spaces available for Amtrak passengers to park overnight. Parking fees may apply.
- Parking Attendant
- Pay Phones
- Shipping Boxes
- Ski Bags
- Wheelchair Lift
Wheelchair lift is a platform-mounted lift for loading passengers from low platforms onto trains that do not have onboard ramps.