Opening of most REM light rail stations pushed back to end of 2024

The opening of 18 of the 26 stations for the light rail train network will be pushed back until the end of 2024 due to ongoing problems inside the Mount Royal Tunnel.

2 Montreal borough mayors call on developer to use delay to set up bike route

The opening of 18 of REM network's 26 stations will be delayed due to issues detected in the Mount Royal Tunnel. (Jay Turnbull/CBC)

People in and around Montreal will have to wait a little longer before getting a chance to ride on the much-anticipated light rail train network, as the developer behind the project announced that the opening of the most of the stations will be pushed back.

Eighteen of the 26 REM stations were supposed to gradually open in three phrases between the fall of 2023 and the fall of 2024. CDPQ Infra now says each of those stations will now open simultaneously at the end of 2024.

In a statement released on Monday, CDPQ Infra — a subsidiary of Quebec's pension fund manager, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec — said "important challenges" in the Mount Royal Tunnel were behind the delay.

"It is not possible to begin the required tests in the tunnel before the summer of 2024. Those tests are essential to make sure services are launched in a safe way."

There's good news for commuters in the South Shore, as service between there and downtown Montreal is still expected to beginning running next fall.

The delay will sting however for residents north and west of Montreal since the the Deux-Montagnes commuter train line, which connects to downtown Montreal, has been shut down since January 2021.

Next fall, the developer will announce when service heading toward Trudeau International Airport will begin.

This is not the first time the Mount Royal Tunnel has been behind a delay in the REM project.

In November 2020, CDPQ Infra held a news conference to announce that it had found century-old explosives in the tunnel, which contributed to the overall degradation of the structure.

According to CDPQ Infra, the issues it is dealing with in the tunnel could have forced it to delay the western portion of the light rail network from Deux-Montagnes to l'Anse-à-l'Orme until the spring of 2026.

"The last months were dedicated to finding a solution to optimize the test schedule and make sure services are up and running by the end of 2024," the developer said.

In the fall of 2020, century-old explosives were found in the Mount Royal tunnel, which has since caused delays for the light-rail train network. (Radio-Canada)

Build bike route along REM path, borough mayors say

In light of this delay, two borough mayors in Montreal are calling on the creators of the REM to set up a véloroute, or a bike route, along the path of the light rail network as an option for people living west and north of the city.

They say the route could link the Saint-Laurent borough to the city of Deux-Montagnes, going through Pierrefonds-Roxboro and a section of Laval, spanning more than 20 kilometres.

On Monday, Alain DeSousa, Saint-Laurent's mayor, and Dimitrios Jim Beis, the mayor of Pierrefonds-Roxboro put out a statement describing the idea as "an opportunity to seize," given the delay with the construction of the REM.

Both DeSousa and Beis are with the Official Opposition party at city hall, Ensemble Montréal.

"The véloroute is a major project for residents northwest of Montreal for whom mobility options are limited," DeSousa said in a statement, who added that the bike route would make certain regions less isolated and improve access to major job centres in and around the island of Montreal.

The two borough mayors also suggest the bike route could connect the Montpellier train station, which is in Saint-Laurent, to the des Arbres Park in Pierrefonds-Roxboro.

They say the route could connect to the north shore by creating a crossing over the old railway bridge to Île Bigras, part of the city of Laval. 

With files from La Presse Canadienne


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