Unexpected incidents have led to significant construction delays for Montreal's most anticipated public transit project, the Réseau Express Métropolitain's (REM).
First, an "unexpected detonation of a century-old explosive charge" in the Mount Royal Tunnel, along with the separate discovery of structural degradation in some tunnels walls, has led officials to push the opening of the segment between the Gare Centrale and Du Ruisseau stations by over a year, to fall 2023.
The surprise detonation occurred on July 20 and thankfully, no one was hurt.
While the pandemic is still ongoing, the project office continues to closely monitor the situation with relevant authorities.
Réseau Express Métropolitain (REM)
Tunnel work will also affect "opening the West Island, Deux-Montagnes and Airport branches, since the tunnel lies in the central segment," the REM said in a press release.
The opening of the West Island branch "is thus planned for the spring of 2024, rather than fall 2023" and "the complete segment up to Deux-Montagnes will be put into service in the fall of 2024, rather than at the end of 2023."
In addition to these, pandemic-related restraints have contributed to further construction delays.
The South Shore branch, from Brossard to the Gare Centrale, is now projected to open in the spring or summer of 2022, "rather than the end of 2021."
Finally, the REM expects the airport branch will open by the end of 2024 instead of the end of 2023.
While the construction is delayed, the first train tests will continue as planned along the South Shore segment.
According to the REM, "teams are working diligently to find ways to make up for lost time."
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.
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.
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.
While on-site, MTL Blog reporter Alex Melki was told that the tunnel being used to build the new REM is 102 years old — so it's definitely got some history to it.
The REM is in the process of building a total of 26 stations in Greater Montreal, with five REM stations planned for downtown Montreal: Île-des-Soeurs, Griffintown–Bernard-Landry, Gare Centrale, McGill and Édouard-Montpetit. Once finished, it'll be 67 kilometres of tracks.
This new transportation network will provide access to the Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, making your travels both within the city and to places around the world a little easier.