Montreal to Electrify Suburban Commuter Trains

By Ryan McGreal
Published May 06, 2009

Quebec's Cyberpresse reports (please let me know if I've mis-translated) that Montreal's Metropolitan Transport Agency (AMT) is announcing the planned electrificiation of its suburban commuter rail system, scheduled to start in two years.

Today, only one of the five suburban lines is electrical, the Deux-Montagnes line. The other four lines consume eight million litres of diesel annually, and they produce a corresponding amount of noise and air pollution. Electrification would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20,000 tonnes and result in quieter trains.

The AMT issued a request for bids on a feasibility study on how (not whether) to carry this out. The call for offers comes in collaboration with Hydro-Québec, which will help pay for the project. Hydro-Québec is already involved in public transit by providing power for a trolley but network in Laval.

According to Joel Gauthier, AMT president, "We want to electrify the entire network. We must be clear right now on how to do it, what technology to use and how to prioritize the schedule [of electrification]."

AMT hopes to start the process in 2011 and electrify the network gradually over 15 years.

AMT has already purchesed 20 dual power (diesel and electric) engines from Bombardier and holds an option on another ten.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By hunter (anonymous) | Posted May 06, 2009 at 13:14:22

good for montreal. looking forward to this happening locally.

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By zapped (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2009 at 09:18:58

This is interesting in light of recent advocacy that Ontario partner with Quebec as client for that province's abundant hydro-electric resources, rather than developing costly domestic nuclear alternatives. Looks like Quebec is moving to rely more on its own resources than those of, say, Alberta. What will that transplanted Ontario boy we currently have as PM say about this? Do the feds have a funding role in Quebec public transportation? Will the PM be around long enough to have something to say before skulking back to the tar sands? Oooh, the intrigue.

Would be nice though if Montreal transit extended a line into the Hammer though, would it not? But that may be unnecessary. In so many ways, I'm there already.

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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted May 08, 2009 at 12:17:36

I've rode the Deux Montagnes line, the only one that is currently electric. It was a real pleasure, smooth and fast acceleration but not jerky like the TTC subway. This is interurban transit done right.

The real win comes when they electrify and start running multiple unit (self propelled) cars. The Deux Montagnes line reduced its travel time from 55 to 35 minutes when it changed from locomotives to multiple unit. If this same factor applies to the Lakeshore West line we could see 50 minutes Hamilton to Union with all stops.

There's a great discussion here about the potential for electrifying the GO network:

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