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Réseau électrique métropolitain the Mont-Royal Tunnel and VIA Rail

Guest Blog by André Lussier - It is true that using the Mont-Royal tunnel for the REM could well forbid any other train to use it.

The REM is a catenary driven electric train and its height is not easily compatible with bi-mode diesel electric locomotives already used through the said tunnel.

See, both the most used line ( Deux-Montagnes North-West, already electric ) and the newest line ( 2 years old ) Mascouche (North-East, bi-mode locomotives) will be cut from the tunnel, defeating their usefulness.

But the Deux-Montagnes line will be entirelty replaced by a new REM line rolling on the present day train tracks that have just been refurbished at a 400 millions $ cost.

As for the Mascouche line, the REM offers a tranfer station to the REM somewhere on highway 40 ( I do not live in Montreal, so, some of my infos lack proper context, but I can read... ! ) to reach downtown, or any other place via REM and/or the Metro

To get it straight, the tunnel is not compatible with running diesel locomotives, no proper exhaust for the fumes exist to this day and no proper exits for people in case of large problems like fire neither exists. To turn this around, the AMT ( Transport Authority purchased bi-mode locos that switch from electric to diesel once out of the tunnel ).

To get this tunnel repaired or replaced would imply very costly works, like 1 billion $ for a new tunnel to get it to par with recent safety rules, even if parallel to the existing one. At least this is what they say, is it believable ?  I sincerely do not know.

There are other ROW lines to leave the Island on the north shore but they are all slower than using the tunnel. And, as I keep digging, some discussions seem to be going on how to make it compatible with modifications to the signaling and automating some of the traffic to let passenger trains through the tunnel other than the REM system. 

One point that seems to angry VIA is the taking into possession of the tunnel without consideration to the present users as if they were non existent. VIA wanted to use the tunnel for its HFR running on the north shore of the river, making for an easier access to Trois-Rivières & Québec eastbound and Ottawa&Toronto westbound.  But since that part is still a project ...

As you can see, the deck of cards is still flying in the air and no set of rules has yet been arranged.


  1. how about one-way REM inbound AM peak using just one track in the Tunnel, then loop through Lachine for the return RER trip. In the PM peak, direction of the loop would reverse to give commuters a quick trip home through the Tunnel. The other track in the Tunnel could thus be retained as-is for peak-direction Mascouche trains and maybe even Via. Looping REM through Lachine for “backhaul” trips could also enable a new stop linked by pedway from the CN line uphill to the new hospital complex at Vendome (CN and CP/AMT tracks come quite close near there). Just a thought - hopefully not too "loopy"!


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