When the City of Montreal inaugurated its three-station extension of the Orange Line into Laval in 2007, it unknowingly marked the beginning of a ten-year hiatus of major transportation projects in the city. On April 12th, officials broke ground on the city's largest transit project since the construction of the Metro, the Réseau Express Métropolitain, which is also currently one of the largest and most expensive single public transportation projects on the continent at a cost of $6.3 billion CAD.

Map of the REM, image via Havas Montréal

The groundbreaking ceremony took place in the Griffintown neighbourhood, just south of Downtown Montreal. Several officials were present for the event, including Mayor Valérie Plante, Federal Minister of Transportation Marc Garneau, Provincial Minister of Transportation André Fortin, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and Michael Sabia, CEO of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.

Station and view from Highway 40, image via CNW Group/Lemay Perkins+Will Bisson Fortin consortium

The 26-station, 67-kilometre automated rapid transit project is expected to carry upwards of 170,000 users daily, and will bring a much-deserved link between the airport, several suburban areas — notably the West Island and the South Shore — and Downtown Montreal, as well as McGill University and Université de Montréal. Preparatory work on the project has already started in several locations and will pick up in the upcoming months, especially on the South Shore branch.

"Today, we have reached an important destination. With this groundbreaking, thousands of people will soon be on site to build one of the world's largest automated transportation systems right here," declared Michael Sabia, CEO of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. "With $4 billion in Québec content and the creation of 34,000 jobs during construction, the REM will generate significant economic benefits for the economies of Greater Montréal and Québec."

Rendering of a REM train crossing Nun's Island Bridge, image via CDPQ Infra

During the ceremony, it was announced that the 212 Alstom Metropolis train cars would be built in India starting 2020. It was announced back in early February that the NouvLR consortium, consisting of SNC-Lavalin, Dragados Canada, Aecon, Pomerleau and EBC, would be building the metro system.,

Major construction work is expected to last until mid-2021, when the first trains will start operating on some branches. The whole network is expected to be completed by 2023. 

"In a few years, the REM will welcome aboard its first riders on the South Shore branch, offering them a public transportation system that is reliable, fast and frequent, that simplifies their day-to-day, with more efficient travel to pick up their children, meet up with family and friends, go to school or university, or even catch a flight from the airport to go on vacation. For the past two years, we have worked tirelessly with these objectives in mind," Sabia added. 

Île-des-Sœurs Station, image via CNW Group/Lemay Perkins+Will Bisson Fortin consortium

Needless to say, hard work pays off, as Montreal's largest transportation project in 50 years is finally taking off.

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Related Companies:  Bisson Fortin, Lemay, Perkins+Will