The obstacles a 13-hour hotel train from Montreal to Boston faces in Maine

With family ties to southern Maine, Bobbie Jane Desforges often made the trip as a child from her native Montreal to Old Orchard Beach, long a popular seaside destination for Quebecers.

On Thursday, the 34-year-old industrial artist was back on the beach for the first time in a decade. Her sister drove because she does not, making a nascent proposal for a modern-era train captivating to her.

“If I had the option to come here by train, I would probably come here every summer,” she said.

The idea is back after years on the shelf. Backers envision a leisurely 13-hour ride costing around $160 with dining, live entertainment and sleeping cabins leaving Montreal at 6 pm and arriving in Boston at 7 am There would be several stops on both sides of the border, with the major ones in Maine including Bethel, Auburn, Portland and Old Orchard Beach.

A major part of the pitch is the romanticized golden era of train travel and the shared history between Maine and Quebec. Many obstacles still lie in front of the idea that is at least four years away, including cost, finalizing agreements with others on the tracks and an uncertain rail future in Maine ahead of the 2022 elections.

All of that, plus the slowdown of the COVID-19 pandemic, make this a good time to reconsider the idea and build alliances on it, said state Mon. Rick Bennett, R-Oxford, who attended a Thursday meeting of more than 60 political, business and other leaders in southern Quebec.