For the first time in a century, an old subterranean secret in Montreal is seeing daylight. The REM construction in downtown has finally reached the old Mount Royal tunnel, a 100-year-old passage that was once intended to be used as a metro line until former mayor Jean Drapeau had other plans.
It has since been used for commuter trains.
The REM will use the tunnel to link up the McGill and Édouard-Montpetit stations. For the first time ever, Montrealers will be able to reach the blue line from the green line through the mountain.
What is the Mount Royal tunnel?
When the Mount Royal tunnel was first conceived, Montreal was just beginning to develop its reputation as an urban metropolis.
The tunnel was completed in 1918 to give one company, Canadian Northern, access to the downtown.
When Jean Drapeau was planning the metro in the 1960s, the tunnel was going to be used for a third line but it was scrapped in favour of the yellow line.
What will REM access through Mount Royal be like?
"Édouard-Montpetit station and McGill station will be connected through this five-kilometre tunnel," said a REM spokesperson.
For the first time ever, Montrealers will have easy, direct public transit access from Ville-Marie to Côte-des-Neiges.
That means no more extra-long detours around the orange line or bus hopping in the Plateau to get from downtown to the north end.
How is REM construction going?
In downtown, construction is moving along at a break-neck pace. With the unveiling of this tunnel, the REM can finally begin progress on renovating and improving the structure so it's able to support light-rail traffic.
Some stations have already begun to take shape such, including the terminus at Brossard and the station deep below the current Édouard-Montpetit blue line stop.
Railway lines and overpasses are springing up all over the island and pretty soon, the first REM trains will begin winter testing.