Rail News


October 27 , 2021

Plante pledges to kick in $500 million for REM de l'Est light-rail line

Montreal Gazette 
October 25, 2021 (Canada)

By promising more cash up front, Montreal administrators will expect to have more say in how it is developed, the incumbent mayor says.

Projet Montréal leader Valérie Plante pledged that, if elected , her party will invest at least $500 million in the REM de l’Est light-rail project to ensure the city has more say in how it will cut through Montreal.

While the city welcomes the $10-billion, 32-kilometre system and its transit benefits, there’s a growing chorus of citizens and municipal politicians concerned the raised tracks perched on concrete pylons could disfigure parts of the city and separate neighbourhoods rather than bring them together, Plante said.

The project is being run by the CDPQ Infra, the arm of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec responsible for building the Réseau express métropolitain.

“For the REM to integrate into a neighbourhood, it’s going to need a lot of reflection on the planning,” Plante said at a campaign news conference Monday. “It’s going to take moving streets and sidewalks, sewers, creating intermodal stations. … What we want is that these new developments be exceptional, and that they make the lives of citizens easier and make them proud.”

The city has been pressing for more of the rail line to be built underground to minimize disruption of the cityscape and neighbourhoods through which it will run. Roughly nine kilometres, or one-third of the line is slated to be underground.

The city will contribute close to $200 million for the first 67-kilometre REM light-rail line, which will connect downtown to the west of the city and to points north and south of the island, Plante said. Contrary to the first REM, which runs mainly alongside existing train lines and highways, the REM de l’Est will carve through residential neighbourhoods in the eastern and northern sectors of the city, having far more impact on the urban landscape. The city has called for the creation of an advisory committee of experts to oversee the integration of the project and has organized citizen consultation sessions.

“We want to replicate the model used in Quebec City, where the city is an involved party in the new tramway system (being built there)”, Plante said, noting that the developers involved in that project ceded to pressure to put some of the tram line underground. Quebec City is contributing $300 million toward the $3.3-billion price tag.

While developers at CDPQ Infra are experts in transit projects, the city of Montreal is experienced in urban development and needs to be involved, Plante said. By promising $500 million, city administrators will expect to have more say in how it’s developed, she said.

Some of the changes the city wants to see include:

  • Building more of the train line underground in the downtown core.
  • Putting the line on Sherbrooke St. E. in Mercier underground or using an alternative route that would connect with Radisson métro station.
  • Extending the tunnel leading to Montreal North as far as Rivière-des-Prairies, to reach the 55,000 people living there who are poorly served by public transit.


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