New Rail Transit Line for Eastern Montreal?

Written by David Peter Alan, Contributing Editor
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ARTM illustration.

There will probably be a new rail transit line coming to the eastern part of Montreal, but it is years off. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) recently reported that the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM), the regional transit authority for the area, is “proposing a ground-level rail line to serve eastern Montreal.” It is unclear which mode the proposed system will use, as the subhead to the CBC story said “Project could resemble tramway, though a light rail network is still a possibility.”

All of Montreal’s Metro lines run completely underground. The former proposal called for an underground line as well but was apparently scaled down because of the cost of building it. CBC reported the cost of the current proposal this way: “The cost? A mere C$10.4 billion, which is considerably lower than the ARTM’s fully underground proposal in June 2023. That project would have cost at least C$36 billion.” An earlier paragraph in the story said: “Building an elevated, electric commuter train to eastern Montreal was panned by residents, and a more recent proposal to go underground had a cost so high, Quebec’s Premier said he ‘almost choked’ on his coffee.” The earlier proposal for an elevated line called for automated operation. The project is known as the Projet structurant de l’est (PSE). ARTM is expected to submit a report to Quebec’s Transport Minister soon.

The current proposal calls for a ground-level line 21 kilometers (13.1 miles) long, with 22 stations. According to ARTM, the line would take up as much width as two lanes of motor vehicle traffic. An ARTM rendering (above) shows 3.4 meters (slightly more than 11 feet) for each track, while vehicle lanes are either 3.3 or 3.5 meters wide.

An ARTM map shows where the proposed line would run. The northern terminus would be at Cégep Marie-Victorin in Montreal North, a few blocks from the Anjou station on Exo’s Mascouche Line, which runs limited weekday service, primarily at peak commuting hours. From there, the line would proceed in short southerly and westerly segments to Lacordaire Boulevard (3 stops). It would then proceed south on Lacordaire and Dickson St. (9 stops) on the northern branch. It would then turn left onto Sherbrooke St. East (10 stops) to Pointe-aux-Trembles, near another station located further east on the Mascouche Line. The innermost four stops of the eastern branch will run above the Metro Green Line and provide connections with the four easternmost stations on that line: Cadillac, Langelier, Radisson and Honoré Beaugrand. The Lacordaire station, in the middle of the northern branch, is slated to connect with a future extension of the Metro Blue Line eastward from its current terminal to Anjou. The five new stations planned for the line are expected to open for service in 2030. Cadillac Station is expected to be a major transfer point between the PSE line and Metro’s Green Line.

According to current plans, stations will be about 1,130 meters (slightly more than 3,700 feet) apart, and the line will run at speeds between 27 and 31 kph (17 and 19 mph). ARTM is expecting between 23,300 and 27,600 daily riders, with similar percentages of riders starting their trips north or east of the line. The agency expects to offer significant time savings compared to taking the bus and expects 17% of motorists to switch to the PSE line after it opens.

We don’t know when that will happen, because we could not find a report that would hazard an educated guess. Previous reports indicated that the Blue Line extension to Anjou will open in 2029, but the recent CBC report said 2030. The new ARTM proposal will cost 71% less than the previous plan, but that does not tell us how long it will take to build it. We do know that the residents of the PSE line’s service area will probably be taking the bus for several more years, unless they live on the Green Line.

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