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The Opening Of Part Of Montreal's REM Has Been Postponed Again

Some Montrealers will have to wait a bit longer to ride the new light-rail network.

Senior Editor
Rendering of Kirkland station on the Montreal REM.

Rendering of Kirkland station on the Montreal REM.

Some commuters will have to wait a bit longer to board the city's new automated light-rail line. Three segments of Montreal's REM (Réseau express métropolitain), from downtown to the North Shore and West Island, now aren't projected to open until the end of 2024.

That's a postponement for the central (from Gare Centrale to the borough of Saint-Laurent) and West Island segments, which were supposed to open in fall 2023 and spring 2024, respectively. The previous schedule already put the opening of the line to Deux-Montagnes on the North Shore in fall 2024.

The South Shore branch, from Brossard and across the Samuel de Champlain Bridge to Île-des-Sœurs, Griffintown and Gare Centrale, is still on track to open later this year, CDPQ Infra, the Crown corporation behind the REM, said in a press release.

Though the station in Griffintown, Griffintown-Bernard-Landry, won't open with the rest of the branch.

The reasons for the delay, according to CDPQ Infra: pandemic-related strains on labour and the supply chain and unforeseen challenges in the century-old Mount Royal Tunnel, which the REM will use to get between McGill station downtown and Édouard-Montpetit station in Outremont and Côte-des-Neiges.

In the summer of 2020, workers came across hundred-year-old explosives leftover from the tunnel's construction. CDPQ Infra says the discovery has forced it to change the methods it's using to retrofit the 5.2-kilometre passage.

An unplanned detonation of these explosives has delayed work on the REM once before.

In addition, REM engineers and construction workers are contending with what CDPQ Infra describes as the tunnel's "degraded" central wall under avenue McGill College.

Challenges in the tunnel mean track testing inside won't be possible before 2024, the company said.

CDPQ Infra added it won't be able to confirm an opening date for the REM's fourth branch, to Montreal-Trudeau Airport, until fall 2022.

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