Move over RER, Montréal’s new fully automated Réseau express métropolitain (REM)’s first segment has opened. Once fully completed, the REM line will link directly across Montréal Island north, south, and west. Essentially, a Regional Express Rail (RER) line, similar to those in Paris (but not as far reaching), and London’s Crossrail, but at a smaller scale. Closely spaced stations in the city centre, free interchanges with the Métro lines, and mostly suburban rail station spacing use the similar template.

Montréal, Canada’s second largest city is growing quickly, but it’s Métro network hasn’t been expanded in 16 years. Furthermore, the city is situated on a large island, one of a number in the middle of the St Lawrence River. As Montréal filled with residents and suburbs, increasing numbers of newcomers chose to live on cheaper land north or south of Montréal Island. Hence more road bridges were constructed, but are almost always bottlenecks. In Montréal traffic, everybody hurts – to drive is to face a daily reckoning, especially crossing any of the city’s many bridges, which always seem to have at least one lane undergoing some kind of maintenance or repair. Often at rush hour, drivers cannot get there from here.

With aviation demand increasing once again, a rapid rail line to serve Aéroport International Montréal-Trudeau (née Montréal Dorval Airport) was also needed. As was a second rapid rail connection to the South Shore of the St Lawrence River, which has large suburbs and undeveloped land where much of the region’s growth is occurring.

Paris was the initial inspiration for Montréal’s Métro, assisting with its design, and providing the idea of using rubber tyred cars to allow steeper inclines before and after stations. This inspiration has continued through the decades – Montréal and REM use the same Transilien card readers as developed and used in Paris, the Calypso smartcard fare system. As Montréal experiences heavy snowfall every winter, their Métro needed to be completely underground. This also required the construction of expensive tunnels for the Métro to extend off the island of Montréal.

However, as further rapid transit connections are needed to link the island to its suburban shores to relieve the pressure on road bridges, a more cost effective mode was needed. One that could also take advantage of existing railway infrastructure.

Begin the Begin

The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) – the Québec Deposit and Investment Fund persuaded the Province of Québec in 2015 that it could design, develop, construct, and operate a Réseau express métropolitain (REM) – Regional Express Metro in English. It would cross the city to connect to its South Shore, Pierre Trudeau International Airport, the suburban island of Laval, and the north shore of the St Lawrence River.

CDPQ is the province of Québec’s pension fund, established to pay for its future obligations. It combines the Québec equivalent of Ontario’s Teacher’s Fund and OMERS municipal employee pension funds, plus civil servant pensions, into one enormous pot of money. CDPQ holds Québec pensions and plays an active role in Québec economic development. It holds $420B CAD (£270B) in assets, of which around 30%, $78B, resides in Québec,

CDPQ’s Infra division (hereafter referred to as CDPQ) had successfully constructed and operated Vancouver’s Canada Line in a pressed time frame to open in time for the city’s 2010 Winter Olympic Games. This used automated light metro trains to provide frequent service between the downtown peninsula, central Vancouver, the southern suburb of Richmond, and Vancouver International Airport hitherto unserved by urban rail.

REM will be the Montréal’s first new urban rapid transit line in three decades, and the first rapid transit expansion since 2007. The initial 17 km, five station segment to the south shore will transport passengers three times faster than by private vehicle. CDPQ Infra’s goal is to get passengers downtown, or back to the suburbs, within 40 minutes.

They also noted that the Deux-Montagnes commuter line which traverses the double track tunnel under Mont-Royal was a bit under utilised, running approximately 61 commuter trains per weekday. This was mainly a peak hour service, with poor off peak frequencies. It was also utilised by four VIA Rail ‘Adventure’ trains to and from Northern Québec a week.

CDPQ Infra Transport Investments

REM is not CDPQ Infra’s first foray into public transport investment – it has a number of rail transportation projects that it has undertaken or acquired:

Construction lead on Vancouver’s Canada Line

Current Eurostar part owner

Construction lead on the Sydney Metro

Generally, most city and regional governments nowadays spend most of their limited budgets on operations. So they have little funds, or in house expertise left, for developing new projects or schemes.

Public Private Partnerships, aka Private Finance Initiative

The CDPQ Infra approach harkens back to many cities’ original means of constructing rapid transit – private capital to build public infrastructure. London’s, New York’s, and many other cities’ original financing method of private companies scoping out their own lines, route alignment, station location, and ridership estimates et cetera, and applied for permission to build a line.

Numerous cities have experimented with Public Private Partnerships (PPP or 3P), called Private Finance Initiative (PFI) in the UK, which is an intermediate step toward full private involvement. However, London was burnt by the Metronet PFI fiasco, and no other British public tranport agency has gone that route since. Notwithstanding, many North American and Australian cities are still using PPPs, but with mixed results.

However, this is reminiscent of what happens in third world cities like Bangkok, in which private companies propose directly to government they can build lines, doing everything from concept, stations, etc. In most cases, there is little government or local expertise do draw upon in these disciplines. Bangkok is one of the worst examples, having four (4) different rapid rail lines constructed by four different companies, but of different technologies, and without much consideration given to planning a cohesive, well integrated network with in station line transfers, unified ticketing, standard wayfinding, and network maps.

CDPQ Infra given carte blanche

In Montréal’s case, the CDPQ Infra proposed to the city and to the province of Québec to build the REM line, and was given carte blanche to build it as they saw fit. As a result of this arrangement, the Québec government would receive a new public transport network without being liable for budget overruns, whilst the pension fund is guaranteed a set annual return, and further develops its expertise and accomplishments to sell to other cities. This was an irresistible offer, and Québec gave the CDPQ the green light in 2016.

CDPQ contracted Montréal based international consulting and engineering group SYSTRA to design the line, stations, the CBTC signalling, and specify the rolling stock. This was performed by their engineers who had worked on RATP (Régie autonome des transports parisiens), TfL’s equivalent in Paris), and working for their REM project by defining the design and performance criteria for the new network.

In particular, Systra had won the large contract for the Grand Paris Express, Europe’s largest infrastructure project, to design and construct the 43km-long Métro lines M15 Est and M15 Ouest. The work includes program definition, tender management, and construction.

Public pressure

The big local criticism of the REM plan is that there is no transparency to the details. The route alignment and service frequencies were determined by CDPQ Infra, not by the city’s Société de transport de Montréal (STM), nor the regional transport agency Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM). The initial REM section will serve a number of ridership generators and shopping areas, despite being in a highway median on the south shore, terminating at the large Dix-30 outdoor mall at the interchange of Highways 10 and 30.

Critical for local political buy in to the REM project was the addition of the following stations, due to public pressure, to interchange with the Métro network:

Édouard-Montpetit on the Métro Blue Line.

McGill on the Métro Green line.

In addition, similar pressure was later brought on CDPQ to add Peel Bassin–Bernard Landry station to serve the large Griffintown condo neighbourhood growing south of downtown.

Whilst these new stations added to the cost, they were much appreciated by city politicians, local residents, and transit advocates. The interchanges will provide much needed rapid transit network connections.

Drilling down into the mountain

Mont Royal is the northern barrier to downtown Montréal which is sandwiched between the St Laurence River to the south. This is the same Mont Royal with its glowing red cross atop that was observed by the R.100 on its voyage from Britain in 1930.

To their great credit, CDPQ Infra designed an interchange with the existing Édouard-Montpetit Blue Line Métro station is just under the north face of the mountain. However, the existing Mont Royal tunnel is 70m (220 feet) below it, so a large shaft needed to be blasted down into the granite to allow passengers to access and transfer with the REM station. This shaft will house the elevators and emergency stairways, as well as power cables, ventilation, communications etc to the REM platforms.

However, due to the location of the two lines, the new REM interchange station had to be sited only 5 metres from a school building. The granite needed to be blasted 3-4 times a day, week in, week out, to meet the deadline. Initially there was large-scale opposition of parents and residents to the idea of blasting so close to the school on weekdays. Many in the neighbourhood are well off and as anywhere, exert some power.

Édouard-Montpetit station with connecting platforms (quais)

CDPQ heard the concerns and emotions of the parents and neighbours:

Air quality

Vibration damaging water pipes

Trucks removing 70 000 m3 of spoil

As a result, the Caisse:

Made the air quality measurements available in real time.

Made vibration and noise measurements available.

Added pedestrian crossings to manage trucks and traffic.

Only scheduled one blast during school hours, timed with the recess siren at 11.45, when the kids are already excited.

CDPQ Infra then invited a local TV station to cover the first blast live. The heavy sound deadening blankets laid on the ground barely moved, and no blast dust escaped. Once the shaft was completed, CDPQ Infra excavated a large REM station cavern, which can be seen and experienced in this excellent video.

What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?

REM will be a fully automated metro, at the highest Grade of Automation 4 (GoA4) operation (without a driver on board), with platform doors at all stations. The fleet consists of 106 cars in permanently coupled pairs, 80m long per pair. Splitting and joining cars between peak and off peak will be performed at branch termini to reduce car-km.

Platform doors & TACTILE CREASE to let passengers leave first. heliomass

Planned operation is 5 minute off peak frequency (12 trains per hour (tph) with 4 tph per northern branch) with 2 car trains, increasing to 2.5 minute peak frequency (24 tph, with 8 tph per northern branch)with 4 car trains. The system has the ability to increase frequency to every 90 seconds (40 tph).

Map of branches opening. Spring 2023 had slipped to Summer. REM

One out of four trains will go to the West Island, one will run to the airport, and two of the four will head for Deux-Montagnes, with the following frequencies:

Between Rive-Sud and Bois-Franc (core trunk): 2.5 min during rush hour, 5 min off-peak

Between Bois-Franc and Aéroport Montréal-Trudeau (branch A2):10 min during rush hour, 15 min off-peak

Between Bois-Franc and Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue (branch A3): 10 min during rush hour, 15 min off-peak

Between Bois-Franc and Deux-Montagnes (branch A4): 5 min during rush hour, 15 min off-peak

REM has designed the ability to run additional trains as needed for sporting events and festivals, thanks to its Alstom Urbalis 400 CBTC moving block signalling system.

The Underground City

Montréal has one of the largest underground cities in the world, a function of its cold winter climate. Called the RÉSO – a play on the French word for network, ‘réseau’, it spans much of downtown, with over 33 km of corridors and tunnels. Connecting office towers, chic department stores, underground and multi-storey tower malls, as well as several Métro and rail stations, it is especially popular whenever the weather turns unpleasant. A 1976 television advert campaign Il fait beau dans l’métro (The weather’s fine in the Métro) was memorable for locals for decades – it combines the sentiments of London Transport’s It Is Cooler Below and It Is Warmer Down Below posters into a single, simpler slogan.

This writer was invited on a tour of the excavation of McGill REM station in August 2022, and described the experience as well as the history of the century old Mont-Royal tunnel that was upgraded for REM use.

Pension funds as public transport builders and owners?

There have been some large pension funds, such as the Ontario Teachers Pension Fund and Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS), that have been financing rail transport infrastructure, as a safe investment with promising and consistent returns. In this case, these funds are merely financiers.

Québec agreed to the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) – the Québec Deposit and Investment Fund – initiating and leading the design, development, construction, and operation of the Réseau Express Métropolitain (REM). Basically, the province has been almost completely hands off on the REM project, with the Caisse securing a 99 year lease, well beyond the typical 25 to 35 year concession for a Design–Build–Finance–Operate–Maintain (DBFOM) contract. Even after that 99 year term, CDPQ Infra may continue to own the line. This has been difficult to confirm, as details of the agreement with CDPQ Infra has been shielded from the public due to commercial confidentiality, of course.

What is known is that CDQP will charge the Québec government a set fee every year, subject to some allowance for inflation, ridership etc. But the public does not know the amount or terms. CDPQ Infra has publicly stated that it expects an 8-9% return on its REM investment, although with the unexpected delays due to Covid, supply chain disruption, unexploded dynamite in the Mont-Royal Tunnel etc, it is not clear if the agreement has changed, or if the province will pick up the tab.

Provincial and local governments will provide operating subsidies, as with any rapid transit line, but these will also ensure that the CDPQ earns its contractual return. One of the few details that have been publicised about the deal is that the pension fund manager will receive 72 cents per passenger-kilometre travelled on the line.

To provide some perspective, Milan’s M4 Metro line Public-Private Partnership (PPP or P3), has a more traditional 35 year DBFOM concession, which requires the city to pay a flat €1 per rider (regardless of the distance traveled) with a guaranteed minimum of 85 million riders/year (the concessionaire take no ridership risk unlike CDPQ). You can see some of the Montréal Métro and Milan Metro’s outstanding design standards in our recent article. Unfortunately, the REM will have replicated, modular stations with little colour or individual design flair for the most part, to keep costs down.

The Québec government has greatly assisted CDPQ, including providing expropriation rights and stickhandling the project through some political and public opposition. As well as overcoming the provincial environmental review board assessing a negative impact of the line.

It is the desire to control as much of the development, construction, and operation of this scheme that likely propelled the CDPQ Infra to propose the REM. With governments merely responsible for regulatory aspects, and some aspects of integration with the existing Métro and commuter rail networks, it provides the Caisse with much more flexibility as to where and how they would build and operate their line.

Given that REM will also stimulate densification of neighbourhoods, greatly expand the rapid transit network, and upgrade the Deux-Montagnes commuter rail line to a much higher capacity urban rail line, the City of Montréal and Province of Québec have welcomed CDPQ Infra. To the transit riding public, this is a much needed expansion of the rapid transit network, the first new line since the Blue Line opening in 1986. Since then, the public has heard and read about new Métro proposals, but bickering between city and province, Mayors and challengers, meant little was constructed but a short extension north into Laval.

Open Access to Renovated Mont Royal Tunnel?

When the REM was first publicised, CDPQ promised that VIA Rail trains and possibly other commuter trains would be allowed to use the upgraded Mont Royal tunnel as well. Such trains have been using the tunnel since its opening in 1918, as it provided quick access to the city’s main railway station Gare Centrale (Central Station) from the north.

A few months later, however, CDPQ Infra announced that rush hour commuter trains would not be able to use the renovated tunnel due to the frequent automated REM trains. In the end, not even VIA Rail trains will be able to use this tunnel.

Disjointed public transport planning

Of course, there’s been no transparency on how CDPQ Infra will be paid from fare revenue. Just that they are charging the province a set fee annually, likely subject to ridership levels, potentially acts of God, and possibly land use changes.

Unfortunately, CDPQ Infra would not want that, they don’t want any interference from the city or its transit agency STM, it would delay or derail CDPQ’s plans for additional lines, which they obviously see as a solid long term investment. They need to be confident that cost overruns (which almost always happen) will be covered by the province.

Métro network still being extended

In return, the province doesn’t have to build up any Métro construction expertise at all, as it has been completely handed off to CDPQ Infra. The Ville de Montréal is the odd one out, having little say or leverage, other than insisting on a couple additional REM stations to interchange with Métro lines.

However, the city has recently started construction of their own Métro extension, a 6km, five stations east expansion of the Blue Line. STM expects to begin service in 2029. The original budget was $4.5 billion, but costs have already risen to $6.4 billion. The province is paying for much of this Blue line extension, with the federal government expected to contribute $1.3 billion.

Nonetheless, if Montréal wants a transit project that a provincial government does not agree with or does not want to fund, the city will be on its own to pay for it, unless it can convince the Federal government to contribute.

Another REM line, but this time too much

Whilst REM will soon provide fast, frequent service to the West Island, this leaves the East Island suburbs poorly served by occasional commuter trains. So CDPQ had been charged by the province to devise a rapid public transport route to better serve the eastern third of the island. CDPQ Infra proposed a separate REM de l’Est (Eastern REM) line east from downtown in early 2022.

REM de l’est v1, note extensive aerial sections

However this proposal was savaged in the press and by the neighbourhoods it would traverse. Furthermore, the proposed elevated tracks above a major downtown street was seen as the empty net goal that sealed the fate of the proposal. As the proposed line would also parallel the existing Métro Green Line for much of its route, and as it appeared to serve areas for redevelopment rather than existing neighbourhoods, the concept was roundly panned.

Furthermore, ARTM the regional transit planning organization, was concerned that the REM de l’Est would abstract ridership from the generally parallel Green Line. This was enough for the City of Montréal and the Government of Québec to take back the planning of the REM de l’Est from CDPQ Infra.

The city and province nixed the most controversial downtown segment, leaving only a single line between Pointe-aux-Trembles and Montréal-Nord with no direct connection to downtown. As a result, CDPQ Infra soon realised that their REM de l’Est line was facing much more determined opposition, and withdrew their proposal.

It is clear that Montréal’s public transport agencies, now including CDPQ, have not been working with each other their planning work, leading to little overall coordinated regional transit planning. This has led to duplicated efforts and poorly thought out proposals like REM de l’Est V1.

A more integrated public transport network

With the opening of the first REM segment, ARTM has updated the regional public transport map with the new REM first stage A1 branch. In doing so, it has also returned the originally assigned Métro line numbers, which had been removed for over a decade. and were known only by their colours. As 10% of the male population has some form of colour blindness, line numbering is crucial for full visual accessibility.

current rem, métro, & commuter train map and fare zones

The eagle eyed may have noted that there is no Métro line 3. This was originally planned as a Métro line that would use the Mont-Royal tunnel reach the northern suburbs. but had never been converted from the Deux-Montagnes commuter line. it is only now once the REM trunk section opens next year that the initially envisioned rapid transit line will become a reality, over 50 years later. The five commuter train lines have been numbered as well, instead of being known by their termini. They are assigned line numbers 11 through 15.

The REM line and branches will also be numbered. Uniquely in North America, it will use the Parisian RER numbering system, with a letter for an entire line and numbers for each branch, here being A1, A2, A3, and A4.

Once the trunk of the REM Line opens through the Mont-Royal tunnel, the Mascouche Exo line 15 will be truncated to terminate at the new north side Côte-de-Liesse station. This will save its long journey around the west side of the mountain, then south of downtown, to actually turn north into Gare Centrale – a full 270° circumferential travel to the city terminus downtown. This is a lot of extra mileage and time for commuters.

In April 2022, ARTM enacted the first fully multimodal zone fare regime in North America, Zone A is for the island of Montréal, B for the inner suburbs of Longueuil and Laval, and C for communities beyond. No ridership figures have yet been published for which to measure the impact that this has had on public transit ridership. Although this analysis will also be complicated by additional fare zone improvements, the growing post-Covid ridership increase, and economic factors.

Another design for a line too far – PSE

Aware of the criticism from many quarters of their initial REM de l’Est proposal, the province established a committee to devise a better project to serve the east of Montréal. ARTM was appointed to coordinate the work of the REM de l’Est V2 committee, working with the Ville de Montréal, the provincial Ministry of Transport and Sustainable Mobility, and the Société de transport de Montréal (STM, the city’s public transport agency) , and renamed it the Projet structurant de l’Est (PSE) – Eastern Structuring Project – in June 2023.

thin blue line is the PSE. thick Blue line is the métro extension. ARTM

In the above map, the proposed PSE (REM de l’Est V2) will interchanges with the existing Green Line, the Blue Line being extended, and the Mascouche commuter rail Line 15 (in purple).

Unfortunately, the committee has not been able to find similar synergies as REM had in taking over an existing railway or upgrading an under-utilised railway corridor. As a result, the PSE proposal launched in June 2023 was chosen to be entirely underground – the committee decided that aerial stations, planned in the initial REM de l’Est V1 project, would not be ‘in harmony’ with the suburban milieu it would traverse. The new project follows the initial REM de l’Est route from the Pointe-aux-Trembles neighbourhood to the Montréal-Nord borough, but without serving downtown. The committee recommended adding:

Two interchanges with the Green Line of the Montréal Métro, which would provide access to downtown;

Four additional stations, extending the initial route:
on the north side, two stations in Rivière-des-Prairies

one off island in Laval, and,

on the east side, one in Charlemagne in Lanaudière.

This proposed 34 kilometer long route is now estimated at $36 billion CAD, almost four times more than the estimate for the initial project of $10 billion in 2020. However, rush hour ridership is estimated at only 6,250 riders per hour, with mid-day ridership estimated at only 2,000 passengers per hour. This is really low for any tunnelled line, be it light rail, REM, or Métro.

It is clear that Montréal’s public transport agencies, now including CDPQ, overlap planning entities, and little overall regional or urban transit planning, leading to duplicated efforts and poorly thought out proposals.

PSE Critiques

Some local transit observers believe that the PSE could be a Trojan Horse proposal, too large, costly, and not going downtown (where most of the riders want to go), making it too ridiculous to be taken seriously. Further speculation is that this proposal has been floated to make any subsequent REM mode proposal appear cheap, concise, and well thought out in comparison.

Nonetheless, it is clear that there is some severe dysfunction in the Greater Montréal Area’s public transport planning, with different and confused priorities.

Crossrail’s experience

John Williams, Deputy Project Director of Bechtel’s Crossrail project delivery partner team between 2016 and 2019, spoke recently in Toronto about this experience. He had led the staged integration and upgrade of the existing suburban lines into Crossrail’s new central operating section. Its ridership is now in excess of forecasts – it reached the 100m passenger journeys milestone in its first 6 months of service, which is equivalent to 3m passengers per week.

Thus high quality, frequent transit is still very useful, even if it is suburban, even after the pandemic. That the Central London route, stations, and interchanges were carefully chosen is proof that the line is well designed and outstandingly useful.

Williams had four Lessons Learnt for a successful project:

Goldilocks Sponsorship – political leadership needs to be just right level, not neglected, not overwhelming. And avoiding the governance ‘theatre’ layer, as it distracts senior management teams from managing the execution risks.

Right people, the right skills, at the right time. Expertise certainly matters. Need domain knowledge, not outsiders.

One team owning entire project. Closeness to the work itself. Tough messages travel slowly.

Know the contractors and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

To summarise his talk, it is imperative that the government side have technical staff, and politicians that know and understand what’s involved that the technical staff have public transport line building experience. Otherwise it becomes the Crossrail experience of long delays and budgets blown.

Taking over the Mont Royal Tunnel

CDPQ Infra had originally promised VIA Rail, Canada’s inter-city passenger train operator, that its operations using Mont-Royal Tunnel would continue, interlining with REM trains. However, it’s quite clear that REM operating even at 12 tph per direction off peak would not leave much interlining capability.

VIA Rail has been developing its High Frequency Railway (HFR) scheme between Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, and Québec City, constructing its own railway for the majority of the distance. However, it will need to use existing tracks in cities. To access downtown Montréal, VIA Rail just lost its priority downtown access via the Mont-Royal tunnel (it still has access to Gare Centrale via the Canadian National Railway’s (CN) tracks just south of downtown).

So to optimise HFR’s access to Montréal would require new dedicated tracks downtown. Being a crowded urban environment, this will be expensive. VIA is currently investigating an HFR station in north Montréal, close to the planned HFR tracks heading east and west, with a connection to a Métro station. This is not ideal as it is an additional transfer and time to reach the population centred on downtown, as well as the centre of the Métro and commuter rail networks for quick connections.

The federal government just released a short list of private-sector bidders to build HFR between Québec City and Toronto. Ironically, a consortium including the CDPQ is one of three finalists for what could be one of the largest infrastructure projects in Canadian history, should it be approved. Canada is the only G7 country without high speed rail.

REM’s A1 first phase Inauguration

This initial REM stage is estimated to have already been a factor in $5-billion worth of real estate development on Montréal’s South Shore, which is three times the pace that the CDPQ had predicted.

An eight month extensive testing program was undertaken to ensure that the trains could operate in all weather conditions, including snow, freezing rain, high winds, and -40C cold.

rem entrance in gare centrale. rmtransit

Gare Centrale is Montréal’s main passenger rail station VIA Rail intercity and EXO suburban trains. Unfortunately, this station is actually a 5 minute walk from the closest Métro station, Bonaventure, on the Orange Line. The walk is at least indoors, part of La Ville Souterraine (Underground City) via revolving doors, escalators, and past small shops. Not a seamless connection however.

Fortunately, the CDPQ was able to create a better direct passage to Gare Centrale from the Place Bonaventure mall and office tower, which is much quicker. It may or may not be open – a Schrödinger passageway – depending on which transit blogger you follow. Apparently negotiation on property rights and placing signage are still ongoing with Place Bonaventure. From what can be seen, it has some narrow staircases, which aren’t good for throughput nor accessibility. There are no escalators or lifts on this path.

Île-des-Sœurs side station. Richard archambault
Île-des-Sœurs station concourse. heliomass

The stations were not air conditioned on opening weekend, but the trains are well cooled. There are some coloured tiles in stations that provide subtle visual clues for riders. The stations are standardised and minimalist, but nevertheless pleasant, as seen in RMTransit’s detailed look. Albeit far from the Métro’s design aesthetic of each station having unique architecture

Train interior – floor lines for passenger flow. Daniel Demby

Wider than Métro cars, the ultimate REM capacity, once fully built out, is 20,000 passengers per hour per direction. But with the flexibility to operate two or four car trains according to demand. Whilst the trains have hard back and bottom longitudinal seats, the ride is smooth, so our LR correspondent deems them much more comfortable than Thameslink’s.

du quartier – all stations protected from highway noise. richard archambault

The curving aerial viaduct over industrial areas is reminiscent of the DLR’s ducking and diving track sections. The REM has larger radius curves and correspondingly higher speeds for a more thrilling ride. Compounded if one stands at the large front window of the automated train.

pretend drivers crowding the front. heliomass

Many competing south shore express bus routes that provided direct over the bridge one seat riders to downtown have been routed to REM stations. This could be a CDPQ contractual stipulation. But it’s made trips longer and more expensive for some people, although it is difficult to determine how many have been affected.

Automatic for the People

driverless trains mean more space & seeing the sights. heliomass

From a mere murmur in 2015, this line has been designed, constructed, and opened in only seven years. It is a document to the green credentials of this mode’s operation and flexibility. It also demonstrates the benefits of a fully automated metro line with platform doors, much like Crossrail and many Paris RER lines.

It may be the end of the world as we know it, but by taking Montréal’s new trains, residents and visitors will feel fine. Transit enthusiasts will talk about the passion for a long time, especially as the line grows to fruition. Passengers will stand in the trains, and many drivers will lose their religion. REM will have a monster impact on mobility on and off the Island of Montréal, leading to new adventures in life’s rich pageant.


Merci to new LR colleague and Montréalais Daniel Demby for attending and taking photos at the REM Inauguration media event.

The post How Montréal’s REM learnt from the Paris RER – Automatic for the People appeared first on London Reconnections.

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