Sunday was quite a big day for Montreal. Not only was it the 50th anniversary of the STM metro network, it also marked the first day the brand new AZUR model trains took to the tracks.
But you probably already knew that, because quite literally all of Montreal was beyond jazzed for the AZURs to finally take on passengers.
We all waited a good long while to finally get a chance to experience the new trains (with the excitement exacerbated by the many tests the AZURs underwent since August, allowing you to see, but never touch, the advanced models), but did the AZURs live up to the hype?
Well, given that there's really only one AZUR on the tracks right now, chances are you probably have next to no idea if all the buzz surrounding the new models was worth your attention. Or, just as likely, you know almost nothing about the AZURs, and were just getting excited for no reason other than they're "new."
For folks who fall into the latter category, we've got you covered, with our rundown of everything you need to know about the Montreal's all-new AZUR metro cars below.
Only One AZUR...For Now
Sunday's ceremony saw the first AZUR hit the tracks, but we'll have to wait a while before more start rolling out onto the STM network. The single AZUR train will only be running along the Orange Line during non-peak hours throughout its testing period.
Even though the AZUR trains underwent a lot of preliminary testing, the STM still wants to make sure the new models are entirely equipped to meet the needs of passengers. With that, the first AZUR will need to travel a full 5,000km in 61 days (which started this past Sunday) without breaking down to get a passing grade in the eyes of the STM.
And Even More Testing On Other Lines
Don't get miff'd if you see an AZUR train whiz you by on while waiting on a ride in the Green, Blue, or Yellow Line. AZURs are going through further testing (without passengers) on said lines.
How To Nab A Ride On The AZUR
Since there's only one on the Orange Line riding around right now, it's essentially pure chance if you happen to see an AZUR rolling up to your station. But for the extremely dedicated, you could just wait a good long while and you'll eventually catch an AZUR.
Since it takes the train 1h 30mins to go around the Orange Line, an AZUR should pass you by every 45 minutes or so if you're staying put in one station.
An STM Crew On Board
Don't feel anxious if you happen to spot STM workers on the AZUR train (if you're lucky enough to catch a ride) because there's nothing wrong. The crew is just there to keep track of the AZUR's service, ensuring that the brakes, doors, and everything else is in full working order, all the time.
Trains Vs. Cars
In total, the STM network will see the arrival of 51 AZUR trains, making up 468 individual train cars. So while we may only have one now, there are lots on the way.
AZUR's Designers & Engineers
You can credit the creation of the fancy new AZUR trains to the Bombardier-Alstom Consortium. In terms of a specific locale, the trains were built in La Pocatière, Quebec, about four hours outside of Montreal.
What AZUR Will Cost
An entire new batch of metro trains don't come cheap, as you could probably guess. The bill to build the AZUR trains clocks in at $1.2 billion, and an additional $1.2 billion has been spent on upgrades to the STM network to ensure the new models properly function on the tracks.
Who's Paying For All This?
$2.4 billion is a pretty hefty price tag, but Montreal isn't covering the costs alone. Actually, the city isn't even paying for the majority. Montreal is set to pay 25% of the total AZUR-bill, with Quebec paying for the rest.
Which Lines Will Get AZUR
First, as has already been seen, the Orange Line will be getting the grace that are the AZUR trains. From there, the trains will be placed onto the Blue Line.
The Green Line will come next, although only a small number of AZURs will actually be used. Mostly the MR-73 cars (which now make up most of the Orange Line) will be moved onto the Green Line, with the current cars on the line to be retired.
All On Electricity
Kind of par for the course for the STM, but still worth noting, is the fact that the AZURs will be 100% electrically powered.
AZUR's Top Speed
In just 32 seconds, the AZUR trains can reach speeds of 72km/hr, all thanks to their 14 engines that can generate 400kWh of power.
All About The "BOA"
Described as "BOA" trains, the AZUR cars won't be seperated by doors like current models. Instead, the train will be connected from the front end to the back, allowing riders to freely move about the entirety of the train.
AZUR's Total Length
And you'll actually be able to walk a fair distance, as the AZUR trains measure out to a total length of 152 metres.
Less Doors Means More Space
Without the waste of space that are doors/barriers, the AZURs can accommodate up to 80 more STM riders.
Marking up an AZUR will be a fair bit more difficult for anyone looking to immortalize themselves on the new trains, as their windows will be resistant to spray paint tagging.
Improved Wheelchair Accessibility
Despite the fact that only nine of the entire STM metro station can accommodate riders in wheelchairs, the AZUR trains will be more wheelchair-friendly. Every AZUR will have a reserved section for those in wheelchairs, located in the back and front of the train.
AZURS Have A Bit More Weight To Them
Weighing in at 240 tonnes, the AZUR trains are a bit heftier than the old MR-63 models, which weigh 226 tonnes. The weight gain is largely due to the fact that the AZURs are comprised of seven cars (not six, like the older trains) and are made with stronger material.
A Brand New Braking System
Heavier and sturdier than the old MR-63 models, AZURs won't expend any more energy, largely thanks to new "traction motors" equipped on the trains. This new breaking system actually allows the AZURs to regain some energy when the trains slow to a stop. The STM cites that the breaking system could lower the energy usage of the metro network by a full 20%.
Fewer, But Larger & "Smarter" Doors
Each AZUR car will have three doors, a drop down from the previous four found on older models. The doors themselves will be 27% larger, however, thus allowing riders to pass in and out more easily, and will also be equipped with "intelligent sensors” that can better respond to obstacles/people who get caught while the doors are closing.
Riding On Air
No longer using steel spring suspension, the AZURs will utilize a computer-monitored air suspension system that can instantly readjust itself to changes in weight when people get on/get off.
It Will (Hopefully) Be Less Hot
An added benefit of the new suspension system is how it will create less heat. Combined with the improved air circulation of the trains themselves (no internal barriers = better air flow) the AZURs will ideally be less steamy than the older cars.