There's nothing quite like a good timelapse video. And the mesmerizing new video released by folks at the Réseau Express Métropolitain (REM) that shows the incredible progress made at the Édouard-Montpetit station in Montreal will probably leave you rather speechless.
Through drone footage, the REM has put together an awesome timelapse of the massive construction project at the station from 2018 to the present day.
REM spokesperson Emmanuelle Rouillard-Moreau told MTL Blog that "since June 2018, REM teams have been busy building the deepest station in Canada."
"Located 70 meters underground, the station will be accessible via five high-speed elevators that will travel the equivalent of a 20-story building in less than 30 seconds!"
As it's the deepest station in Canada, construction crews faced many challenges over the past few years from figuring out how to reduce noise pollution to actually digging into the ground. Crews unearthed "30,000 cubic meters of high-quality excavated rock" that has already been reused in the construction of another station, according to Rouillard-Moreau.
"In order to dig so deep into the ground and in such hard rock, controlled blasting was used to build the station's main shaft and mezzanines," she explained.
So far, the project has gone off without a hitch despite the use of explosives and a global pandemic that halted construction for months.
"Today, the steel structure of the station is clearly visible and the wooden ceiling can also be seen," said Rouillard-Moreau. "In the coming months, the teams will be busy completing the station's exterior shell and will begin work on the interior."
The station is set to be commissioned in fall 2023.
Eventually, high-speed elevators will bring passengers from the entrance at the surface to the station in the rocky depths of Mount Royal.
The REM plans to leave parts of the station's rock walls on display to "remind" riders of "its close relationship with the mountain."
A schematic shows the REM connecting to the blue line via a long corridor to the metro's mezzanine level.
Once the Édouard-Montpetit station opens, the REM says riders will be able to reach Brossard in 22 minutes and the northern termini at YUL-Aéroport-Montréal-Trudeau, Anse-à-l’Orme and Deux-Montagnes in under 30.
Trips to the McGill green line metro station and the Gare Centrale by train — which currently require a circuitous route around the mountain and multiple transfers — will only take three to four minutes.
Work on the REM is steadily chugging along, and details about its characteristics are slowly coming out too. Most recently, it announced that the voice of its in-transit announcements will be none other than that of Caroline Dhavernas, daughter of Michèle Deslauriers, the voice of the Montreal metro.
Quebec-born actress Caroline Dhavernas will become the personality of the REM. According to a news release, she's perhaps best known for her work on TV series Les beaux malaises and Mary Kills People and movies De père en flic 2 and Hochelaga, terre des âmes.
Dhavernas is also the daughter of Michèle Deslauriers, the actress who voices STM metro announcements.
Dhavernas' voice was chosen for the REM following a public vote. Out of three then-anonymous options, her voice won out with 14,200 votes.
"Without knowing it, the public voted for a voice that echoed that of the Métro de Montréal," the REM said in the release.
In a promotional video, Dhavernas said she thought "it'd be really funny" if Montrealers ended up choosing her voice.
"Now that it worked out, I can't believe it," she continued. "Because when I take the metro with my daughter, I tell her that she's hearing her grandma's voice and that when we'll take the REM, we'll hear my voice."
She said that when she went into the audition to be the voice of the REM, she was still recovering from a sinus infection and tried to vocalize from her stomach instead of her nose to compensate.
"I have to admit that even I could barely recognize myself when I was listening to it on the website during the vote since my voice was slightly different because of the sinus infection."
The first branch of the REM is set to start rolling in 2022.
Montreal's Outremont station is set to close for seven months as part of a major renovation. From January 10 to August 19, 2022 passengers will not be able to enter or exit the metro at the blue line station.
The STM says the planned closure will make way for crews to fast-track a renovation project that began in January 2021. The project includes the installation of elevators, a new waterproof membrane, better lighting and motorized butterfly doors, according to the transit company.
In a press release, it explained that the closure of the station was necessary because it only has one entrance, so passengers wouldn't have another way to safely enter the metro during construction.
People who usually use Outremont station will be able to get on a special shuttle to get to Acadie station or the regular 51 or 119 buses to get to Édouard-Montpetit station.
Though Outremont station will reopen in August 2022, work will continue until December 2023.
Work on the blue line station is just one part of a major renovation push by the STM. 24 stations are undergoing or have recently undergone some sort of construction project, according to the company's website.
Many of those projects involve the installation of elevators.
According to the STM, "Outremont is the ninth station to close for major work, after Côte-Vertu (2021), Beaudry (2018), Beaubien (2015), Jolicoeur (2013), Villa-Maria (2011), Côte-Sainte-Catherine (2010), Charlevoix (2009) and Georges-Vanier (2008)."
We finally know how the announcer's voice on the REM (Réseau express métropolitain) will sound — and apparently, it's someone relatively famous.
Greater Montreal's impending light rail transit network put the voice of its future announcer to a public vote, which closed in August.
Voters could choose between three audio clip options from three different people, offering samples of their voices announcing station arrivals, directions, connections, and simple messages welcoming passengers or wishing them a good day.
On November 19, the REM sent an email to MTL Blog announcing that "Voice B" won the vote, calling it "the people's choice." It said 35,000 people voted for their favourite voice "in a contest open to all."
The REM is set to consist of 26 stations and 67 kilometres of tracks within the Greater Montreal area.
Three connections to the Montreal metro are planned, as well as a connection that takes people from downtown to the airport in 20 minutes.
The first trains are expected to start running from the South Shore to Bonaventure-Central Station in 2022.
By comparison, the current Montreal metro is 71 kilometres long with 68 stations. The Montreal metro's announcements are done by Michèle Deslauriers, whose familiar voice has become iconic to the city.
So, who's behind the new voice of the REM? Unless you can guess correctly after listening to the audio clip, only time will tell.
"If voice B sounds familiar, that may be more than mere coincidence. Stay tuned: we'll be revealing the identity of the official voice of the REM soon," said the REM in its email.
You can listen to the winning voice on the REM website and place your bets.