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Work to begin on Montréal light metro

Construction of REM network to connect suburban Montréal to the city is to start next month.

CDPQ Infra, promoters of Montréal’s 67km (42-mile) REM automated light metro, announced on 8 February that construction will start in April. Testing is due at the end of 2020 and passenger service on the first section of the system in mid-2021.

Infrastructure, accounting for 80% of the cost, will be provided by the Group NouvLR consortium, including SNC-Lavalin, Dragados Canada and AECOM. Rolling stock, systems, operations and maintenance will be in the hands of another consortium, Group des Partenaires pour la Mobilité des Montréalais, formed by Alstom and SNC-Lavalin. Alstom will supply around 200 cars.

The CAD6.3bn (EUR4bn) project cost is being met by a mixture of federal/provincial funding (CAD1.28bn/EUR815m each) and private funding from Caisse de depot at placement du Québec. CDPQ Infra is creating a subsidiary to own the Mont Royal tunnel, Viaduc du Sud and rail infrastructure at Gare Centrale, and will offer track sharing with other operators.

The decision not to choose Bombardier for the rolling stock is a blow for the firm’s North American rail business (Caisse holds a 30% stake in Bombardier Transportation) that is already facing difficulties over late delivery of Canadian orders to Toronto and Waterloo-Kitchener. The La Pocatière plant will have no work once the current contract for Montréal metro trains is completed.

In moves to address this, Vancouver has brought forward delivery of 56 Skytrain vehicles from 2024 to 2019-20, and Québec is buying 20 more Montréal metro trains.