Montreal

Old Metro car gets new life as place for Polytechnique students to relax

The project was the brainchild of a group of students who pitched the idea when the old MR-63 train cars — on the tracks since 1966 — were phased out to make way for the new AZUR cars.

Car has been renovated, moved to campus as a chill zone for students

This repurposed MR-63 Metro car has been turned into a student space where Polytechnique students can take a break from hitting the books and decompress. (Simon Nakonechny/CBC)

After decades of service, an original Montreal Metro car has reached the end of the line, but it will continue to be a gathering place for Montrealers: a place where engineering students at Polytechnique Montréal can take a study break and relax.

Some of the people behind the project say it's a homecoming, of sorts.

"A lot of engineers from Polytechnique worked on this particular car, so to save it and to bring it back to kind of its original place where so many people learned before was kind of bringing it back home in a way," said Polytechnique chemical engineering student Florence Ravary-Berger.

The space, called Station Polytechnique, will host events to help raise awareness about mental health on campus and provide a place for community events like pet therapy and reminders to reduce screen time.

The interior of the car has been fitted as a zone for students to spend time and host events. (Simon Nakonechny/CBC)

The project was the brainchild of a group of students who pitched the idea when the old MR-63 train cars — on the tracks since 1966 — were phased out to make way for the new AZUR cars.

The STM sought pitches for what to do with the unused cars. Out of 30 submissions, the idea from the Polytechnique students was one of seven given the green light.

Getting the 17-metre-long, 13-tonne MR-63 into the Lorne-M.-Trottier atrium was no easy feat, however.

Florence Ravary-Berger, a Polytechnique Montreal student, was one of the group who came up with the idea to give the Metro car a new purpose. (Simon Nakonechny/CBC)

A team of 18 students had to remove a bank of windows from the building and then slide it inside with a crane.

"We were so excited when it was finally in," said Ravary-Berger.

The project was three years in the making and took the collaboration of students, faculty, administration and the French transportation company Alstom, which provided the lion's share of the funding.

Philippe Tanguay, the director general of Polytechnique, said in a statement that it's a "fantastic" and "bold" project that posed the engineers involved with a real challenge.

The car is suspended in the Lorne-M.-Trottier atrium at Polytechnique Montreal. (Simon Nakonechny/CBC)

They constructed a structure made of steel beams so that the car is suspended in the atrium and takes up less space.

The new student space was inaugurated at a ceremony on Monday with STM chair Philippe Schnobb in attendance. 

Its doors will be open to the public on Nov. 10.  

With files from Simon Nakonechny

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