Agreement Might Speed Up Customs Inspections

An agreement between the United States and Canada promises to make the border crossing a little faster.

Under the pact, U.S. customs inspections will be conducted at Montreal’s Central Station, in the manner that it is done for air travel between the two countries.

However, officials warn that it will be at least two years before the inspections begin in Montreal.

Garry Douglas, president and CEO of the North Country Chamber of Commerce in Plattsburgh, New York, predicts the best case scenario is that it will be at least two years before the new system is implemented.

“There are at least six parties in the conversation,” he said.

One key question that has yet to be answered is where the funding will come from to construct an inspection facility in Montreal.

At present, Amtrak’s New York-Montreal Adirondack, stops at the border and customs officials move through the train interviewing passengers as well as examining luggage and identification documents.

That process can take up to an hour, depending on how many passengers are on board.

The move to end the border stop has been in the works for more than five years.

Agencies involved in the discussions include U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the New York State Department of Transportation, Transport Quebec, Transport Canada, Amtrak and the City of Montreal.

One idea is to use an unused track and platform in Montreal for the inspection facility.

Amtrak spokeswoman Beth Toll said the carrier will establish a timeline to implement the new inspection procedures in consultation with New York officials, Canadian authorities, and U.S. border authorities.

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