Serving Chicago, East Lansing, Flint, Port Huron, Sarnia, London, Toronto, and intermediate points
Amtrak train numbers: 364 and 365
Predecessor railroad train numbers: Canadian National/Grand Trunk Western 14 and 15 (International Limited)
Prior to the advent of Amtrak in 1971, Canadian National Railways and its U.S. subsidiary, the Grand Trunk Western, had operated several trains daily between Chicago, Toronto, and Montreal, crossing the border between Port Huron, Michigan, and Sarnia, Ontario. The flagship train on the route was the International Limited, operating on an overnight schedule between Chicago and Toronto.
With Amtrak taking over most passenger train service in the U.S., the Grand Trunk Western's portion was discontinued; however, service between Chicago and Port Huron was reintroduced in 1974 with the financial support of the state of Michigan, as a day train called the Blue Water Limited.
On October 31, 1982, the train was extended to Toronto as a joint venture between Amtrak and its Canadian equivalent, VIA Rail, and renamed the International. It wasn't an exact successor to the International Limited, because it remained on a daytime schedule with no sleeping cars and no full dining car service.
Initially, equipment for the train was provided by both Amtrak and VIA Rail, with each railroad providing complete trainsets that operated on alternate days. Eventually, Amtrak began providing all the equipment, but VIA Rail personnel still take over the entire train at the border, including a complete change of items for sale in the snack car.
Amtrak has occasionally broached the idea of running the International through Detroit and Windsor instead of Port Huron and Sarnia, particularly when Michigan has seemed reluctant to renew its financial obligation, but a reroute would once again leave several important Michigan cities without passenger train service, in particular Lansing, where the train station is right on the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing.
More recently, the International has been subject to long delays caused by increased border security following the events of September 11, 2001; in some cases, all passengers have had to carry their baggage and leave the train on one side of the border, take a bus across the Blue Water Bridge, go through customs, and then reboard the train.
Condensed historical timetables:
READ DOWN READ UP
(1956) (1984) (1992) (2002) (2002) (1992) (1984) (1956)
8:10P 10:25A 8:35A 9:50A Dp Chicago Ar 5:52P 6:45P 5:59P 7:25A
1:40A 3:27P 1:37P 2:44P East Lansing 2:47P 3:25P 2:40P 4:20A
2:53A 4:18P 2:34P 3:45P Flint 1:43P 2:33P 1:52P 3:31A
4:20A 5:45P 4:10P 5:35P Port Huron 12:30P 1:25P 12:45P 2:30A
4:40A 6:40P 5:00P 7:05P Sarnia 11:10A 12:35P 11:45A 1:54A
5:52A 7:50P 6:05P ----- London 10:00A 11:25A 10:35A 12:52A
9:15A 9:55P 8:50P 11:10P Toronto 6:35A 8:20A 8:15A 10:00P
5:45P ----- ----- ----- Ar Montreal Dp ----- ----- ----- 3:30P
The Amtrak Train Names Project