We've waited a while (a year and a half, actually), but the STM's new metro cars will finally be put into public use in just a few short weeks.
Known as the AZUR trains, and set to replace the old MR-63 models, the STM's newest addition to the metro network will be an entirely new riding experience. Okay, maybe that's a tad hyperbolic, because you'll still just be getting in and out of a metro train, but there are enough changes to the new models to make a bit more than a minor difference in your riding experience.
Both Radio-Canada and Métro had features on the new AZUR trains, and we've compiled the relevant-to-you info in the points below. All those wishing to read the (a tad bit more) in depth features can do so here and here.
By the numbers: cost and the amount of cars
In total, the AZUR trains make up 468 new metro cars, all of which totaled a bill of $2 billion. Most of that (75%) was covered by the provincial government, with the remainder of the tab picked up by the STM.
By the numbers: energy and speed
Like the older train models, the AZURs will run entirely on electricity. The trains, equipped with 14 engines that generate 400kWh, can reach their top speed of 72km/hr in only 32 seconds.
They will be "BOA" trains
Somewhat snake-like (I guess), the new AZUR cars are defined as "BOA" trains, meaning that instead of each car being separated by doors, riders can walk from one end of the train to the other without any obstacles. An obvious boon in emergency situations, this will also alleviate any stress when a particular door doesn't open, because you can simply walk a short ways to another.
They are 152 metres long
From the front of the train to the back, the AZURs measure up to 152 metres.
More passengers can board
Lacking any internal doors or barriers, the AZUR cars have some extra space. In total, the AZUR trains will allow 80 more metro riders than the previous MR-63 model.
You'll see everything with panoramic windows
Making your metro ride a bit more engaging will be the AZUR's panoramic windows, which will let riders see stations more clearly than before. You'll also be able to gaze upon the dark tunnels that make up the metro network as you ride through, although that doesn't sound too comforting or fun.
The windows will be graffiti-resistant
In case anyone is looking to tag the new metro trains as soon as they hit the tracks, be warned, the AZUR windows are said to be resistant to graffiti.
They will be more wheelchair-friendly
In the front and back cars, a reserved section will exist that will be tailored to metro riders in wheelchairs, with an emergency communication system in place. Now, if only we could get the actual metro stations to be more wheelchair accessible...
They will be heavier
Whereas the to-be-replaced MR-63 trains weigh in at 226 tonnes, the AZUR clock in at about 240 tonnes. The weight-gain is largely because the AZUR trains are built out of sturdier material (able to easily shrug off any hits made at 15km/h) and have...
Seven instead of six cars
Inherently larger (hence the higher weight) the AZUR model has seven cars per train, whereas the MR-63 has six.
More weight doesn't mean more energy
Some of you may have been scratching your heads, wondering why the STM would install new trains that weighed more, and therefore take more energy to move then the previous model. Well, don't you worry your environmentally-conscious head, because the AZUR trains, while heavier, won't be any less green.
Built with special "traction motors," the AZUR trains actually regain energy when they're breaking. When the trains slow down to a stop, energy is recovered in the process, which then goes on to power the entire metro network. According to the STM, this process could lower the overall energy bill of the metro network by 20%.
They will have less doors
But that doesn't mean you'll be slowed down at all. Even though the new trains have three doors per car instead of four, the new entrance/exit-points are a full 27% larger, which should allow two riders to use the doors at the same time.
And the doors will be "smart"
With built-in "intelligent sensors" the AZUR doors will be able to automatically open and close when they meet an obstacle.
The train conductor will have it easier
Ever wonder what the STM employee who "drives" (quotations used because it seems like they just push a few buttons rather than actually direct anything) the train actually does? Well, we don't have any answers for you, but we can tell you that their jobs will be a bit more comfortable with the new AZUR trains.
The conductor's cabin has been overhauled in the new model, fully equipped with computers and monitors so drivers can see what's going on inside the train, along with air conditioning and a seat to sit on. Seem strange that a place to sit wasn't in the old trains, but hey, better late than never.
They will (literally) ride on air
Casting off the steel spring system of old, the AZUR cars will use a computer-monitored air suspension system that will constantly readjust itself to changes in weight.
There still won't be any AC, but it should be somewhat cooler
While the STM employees driving the trains get air conditioning, all us riders are left to sweat like before, but the STM does say that the heat won't be so bad in the AZURs.
The train's new suspension system is said to produce less heat and, lacking any internal barriers, the air flow within the trains will be improved, both of which should cool things down a bit.
The old wooden brakes will still be used
A relic of the old metro models that will still be seen in the new AZURs are the wooden brakes used to stop the trains. Even though wooden brakes in peanut oil sounds a bit archaic, they're actually more eco-friendly and quieter than graphite or steels varieties, hence their inclusion in the new system.