Thursday, May 16, 2013

AMT, CN in talks on Deux-Montagnes line

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CN is holding discussions with Montreal's Agence metropolitaine de transport (AMT) on the possible sale of CN's Deux-Montagnes line, including the Mount Royal tunnel, used by AMT regional trains.

"As soon as CN told us they wanted to unload this line, we saw that as good news," AMT CEO Nicolas Girard said in an interview with the Montreal Gazette. "If we can own railway lines and be masters in our own house, it gives us more flexibility and allows us to improve service for customers." AMT hopes to secure an agreement by year's end.

The 18.6-mile, 12-station Deux-Montagnes route is AMT's busiest, carrying 45% of the agency's annual ridership.

AMT traffic currently dominates the line's use, though CN operations take precedent at present between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. and between 8:30 p.m. and 5:30 a.m., essentially limiting AMT to traditional "commuter" rail service. AMT ownership could allow service expansion.

The price of such an exchange has yet to be set. "CN wants to sell and we want to buy, now we have to agree on a price," Girard said.

More immediately, AMT is struggling to meet increased ridership demand by adding Bombardier BiLevel equipment (pictured above) to the line, initially slated to begin this fall but now postponed until early 2014.