It's just a short link from where Amtrak's Vermonter begins in Saint Albans VT up to Montreal, but currently there is no service. The logic of extending the train north to serve the 5 million people in Quebec is obvious, and happily the Shumlin administration and the Agency of Transportation are working to return the train to it's rightful start in Montreal.
Montreal is the "big city" for most of Vermont, closer than Boston or New York. And Quebecois are the closest large market of potential tourists. Many in Montreal (like New York) do not have cars.
Years ago, when Amtrak ran it's overnight Montrealer, half the cost of running the train from Washington to Montreal was incurred north of the border. Amtrak had little bargain power regarding costs and was forced by Union rules to use four crews from Saint Albans to Montreal. Fortunately, it is a different world now: union rules have changed and we have the support of the Quebec government, making the prospect of a reasonably priced service possible.
Four issues need to be resolved:
1. Pre-Clarence procedures
2. Funding & Building the pre-clearance facility in Montreal
3. Resolving Operating Agreements
4. Upgrading the tracks.
Amtrak's Adirondack currently stops at the border for checks, but this is unacceptable because it creates long delays -- and worse it is unpredictable so trains are not able to run on time further down the line. We would love to see border checks done in motion, but apparently in this post 9-11 world that is not able to be considered. The compromise is to have US and Canadian border agents at Montreal's train station, just as they are at Montreal's airport. This requires modification of international treaties and changed procedures for Homeland security, so (as you can imagine) it has taken some work to plan and some political leadership (thanks are due to Governor Shumlin, our entire congressional delegation, Brian Dubie and the Agency of Transportation).
Fortunately Vermont will benefit from a $10 million TIGER award to fix the tracks north of Saint Albans to the border. As of August 2014 work has almost completed. Quebec has studied upgrading tracking north of the border (which is mostly already used by Amtrak's Adirondack) and is "committed" to getting this upgrade done, though has not allocated funding.
Amtrak proposed two schedules, a daytime and an overnight run, both from Montreal to Washington DC. The overnight run was predicted to have higher ridership overall, but the daytime run was predicted to have higher ridership in Vermont, so that is what the Agency of Transportation has chosen, as the service will be subsidized by Vermont.