Category Archives: Montreal

‘Put the Junction Back in the Junction’

Every seat was occupied in the waiting room at the Essex Junction Amtrak station on the first Wednesday in January. Passengers going south to New York City and Washington, D.C., spilled onto the platform next to the tracks. The drab station was the center of activity as the shops and restaurants in the old commercial buildings along Railroad Avenue began to open.

With a blast of its horn, the Vermonter arrived promptly at 9:54 a.m. from St. Albans, and 110 people climbed aboard the train. Such large crowds delight Essex Junction leaders, who want to boost train ridership in the historic railroad town.

The goal is “to put the junction back in the Junction,” said George Tyler, president of the Essex Junction Board of Trustees.

To that end, he and his colleagues are doing everything they can to accelerate the proposed extension of passenger rail to Montréal, which they figure could bring throngs of Canadians to Essex Junction, the train’s sole stop in Chittenden County. It would restore the old Montréaler service that for decades brought tourists and skiers through Vermont, linking Quebéc and Washington, D.C. The trains ran until 1995, when Amtrak discontinued the run because of financial problems. St. Albans became the northern terminus, and the line was renamed the Vermonter.

Citing renewed interest in rail and a national increase in Amtrak ridership, state officials predict the new service to Montréal will start in 2019. “Everything that needs to be done is in Canada,” said Dan Delabruere, rail director at the Vermont Agency of Transportation. “We’re ready on the Vermont side.”

Village leaders are touting other rail projects, too, as part of a broader village revitalization that encourages better pedestrian access, more street life and taller buildings in the core of the commuter burg.

For years, the area around the Junction sprouted strip development, parking lots and outlet stores while commercial spaces in the historic center sat empty. No more. New planning and zoning goals promote downtown-style redevelopment and seek to inject more life into the village.

“This community came into existence because of rail, and one of the best things we can do is take advantage of this fact and redevelop our rail assets,” said Tyler.

Originally named Painesville after Vermont governor and railroad owner Charles Paine, the village in the town of Essex earned a different moniker in the 1850s. It became known as “the Junction” because at least six rail lines chugged through it.

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Leonard Cohen Dies At 82

Leonard Cohen, the baritone-voiced Canadian singer-songwriter who seamlessly blended spirituality and sexuality in songs like Hallelujah, Suzanne and Bird on a Wire, has died at age 82.

“My father passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles with the knowledge that he had completed what he felt was one of his greatest records. He was writing up until his last moments with his unique brand of humour,” his son Adam told Rolling Stone.

Cohen, also renowned as a poet, novelist and aspiring Zen monk, blended folk music with a darker, sexual edge that won him fans around the world and among fellow musicians like Bob Dylan and R.E.M.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau led tributes to the singer. “It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of the legendary Leonard Cohen,” Mr Trudeau said.

Cohen was born in the Westmount section of Montréal.

Delaware and Hudson Railway-Built Caboose on Napier Junction

Since this is the month to display cabooses on WordPress, thought a good time to show off.

Deleware & Hudson could not go all the way from New York State to Montreal. At Rouses Point it legally became the Napier Valley to go into Montréal. Like everything D&H, it was QUALITY. Not sure where it was built; Could have been Colonie or Oneonta.

CP ready to move this year’s larger grain crop

Canadian Pacific is touting its preparation for moving this year’s western Canadian grain crop, which is forecast to beat the five-year average.

The Class I is calling on supply chain partners to ensure grain is adequately moved and distributed. The rail supply chain has returned to normal since the extraordinary crop and winter 2013-14, and CP “has continued to move record amounts of grain,” CP officials said in a press release.

There is excess capacity in the supply chain, including thousands of rail cars in storage ready to move the latest crop. In order for the system to move record volumes of grain, it’s essential that port terminals such as Vancouver operate on a 24/7 basis, said CP officials.

“To ensure success during this crop-year, the broader supply chain must work together to collectively harness our energy so that the entire Canadian economy can reap the maximum benefit,” said CP Chief Executive Officer E. Hunter Harrison. “We have been preparing for this crop year for months and we are ready.”

Grain is CP’s largest line of business. Grain movement for the 2015-16 crop year was flat relative to 2014-15, 4.7 percent higher than the railroad’s three-year average and 11.6 percent above its five-year average, according to CP.

The Class I continues to make significant investments in its infrastructure to move grain more efficiently, CP officials said.

Environmental study unveiled for Montreal’s proposed light-rail system

CDPQ Infra, a subsidiary of institutional investor Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, last week released an environmental impact study for the proposed Reseau electrique metropolitain (REM) light-rail system in Montreal.

Photo: CDPQ InfraAn official request has been made for a public hearing, at which CDPQ will present the project and recent updates.

The 41-mile, fully automated light-rail system would connect downtown Montreal with the city’s South Shore, North Shore and West Island areas. The REM also would connect to the Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport in Dorval, Quebec.

The project is expected to cost $5.5 billion (in Canadian dollars), with the Caisse contributing $3 billion. The REM would be the third largest automated transportation system in the world after Dubai and Vancouver.
The Caisse established CDPQ Infra to plan, finance, develop and operate the project. In April, the organization first announced plans to build the REM.

Montreal transit agency ready to roll out AZUR trains

The Societe de transport de Montreal (STM) announced yesterday that it’s ready to begin sending more of its new AZUR trains into passenger service following the successful completion of a testing period.

The testing allowed STM to validate and adjust the performance of several systems with passengers on board, such as ventilation in automatic mode or the volume of audio messages. The first AZUR train traveled more than 14,000 miles with customers aboard since it debuted on the Orange Line in February.

Another train will continue to be operated without transit users. That train will perform necessary qualification tests on the system’s other lines.

By 2018, a total of 52 nine-car trains will be operational in STM’s subway system, agency officials said in a press release.

“This is very good news for Montrealers, as AZUR will help improve the transit experience for customers who choose public transportation,” said STM Chairman Philippe Schnobb.

Montreal transit agency plans improvements at Honore-Beaugrand station

The Societe de transport de Montreal (STM) on May 2 will launch a major refurbishment of its Honore-Beaugrand subway station in northeastern Montreal.

A rendering of the refurbished Honore-Beaugrand station.
Source: Societe de transport de Montreal

The work includes adding three elevators to improve accessibility, waterproofing the station’s underground roof, replacing the station’s ambient lighting, and demolishing and rebuilding slabs and staircases, STM officials said in a press release.

The agency’s board has awarded a $19 million contract to Groupe Decarel Inc. for the project, which is expected to wrap up in December 2017, STM officials said.

The station, which is the eastern terminus of STM’s Green Line, was opened in 1976 and currently serves 5.3 million customers annually.

STM is advancing a plan to improve accessibility at 12 stations, including Honore-Beaugrand, by 2017.

Montreal transit agency unveils train maintenance center

The Agence metropolitaine de transport (AMT) last week inaugurated its new train maintenance center in Montreal’s Lachine borough.

AMT will use the Lachine Maintenance Center to maintain commuter trains that travel on the Candiac, Saint-Jerome and Vaudreuil-Hudson lines, agency officials said in a press release.

The facility has enough space to accommodate 13 train sets. It also features a service inspection workshop that can contain a train set of 10 cars and two locomotives, as well as a major repair shop containing heavy equipment such as a bridge crane, a 100-ton decoupling table and automated inspection systems. Other equipment includes an automated train wash that cleans the exterior of a train set in five minutes, AMT officials said.

The $118.9 million project (in Canadian dollars) was funded by a public-private partnership known as PPP Canada and other national and local government sources.

“The government of Canada is proud to support projects like this one, which will provide a long-term solution to the development of public transit in the Montreal metropolitan region, in addition to improving the reliability and safety of the network for its passengers,” said Canada’s Minister of Transport Marc Garneau.

Given the lack of connections between the CN and CP networks, the AMT opted for two locations: the first for trains operated on the CN network and the second for trains on the CP network.

For efficiency purposes, the maintenance sites must be located in a maximum radius of 10 kilometres from the downtown terminating stations (Lucien-L’Allier and Central Station). The period between peak hours will be used to inspect and maintain trains.

Visit the pages devoted to each maintenance centre to find out more :


Amtrak Montreal train service could take three years

MONTPELIER – Amtrak’s Vermonter train could resume passenger service to Montreal within three years, lawmakers were told Tuesday morning.

“The stars are aligned, and I think we are going to go as fast as we possibly can,” said Brian Searles, Vermont’s former transportation secretary who now works as a consultant on the cross-border train project.

The Vermonter brought passengers to Montreal from 1972 to 1995, when the service was suspended due to long labor- and security-related delays at the border. The train currently runs from Washington, D.C. to St. Albans.

Officials on both sides of the border are hoping to create a security clearance facility at Central Station in Montreal to make the route viable again. The security facility would also expedite border crossings for the Adirondack train that runs between New York City and Montreal.

The project depends on the success of pending legislation in Congress and the Canadian Parliament, Searles said.

“We think everybody is poised and ready for passage of this legislation,” Searles said, noting that Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has led the bill in Congress.

With legislative approval in hand, a “highly speculative” timeline would require 12 months of planning and permitting and 24 months of construction, for a total of three years, Searles said.

Members of the House Transportation Committee chuckled at the optimistic estimate, but Searles listed reasons for hope.

He said Amtrak would schedule four trains through Montreal daily, or one round trip each for the Vermonter and the Adirondack.

CDPQ Infra proposes 41-mile light-rail system in Montreal

CDPQ Infra, a subsidiary of the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, late last week unveiled plans for a 41-mile light-rail system to connect the Greater Montreal region with the city’s downtown and airport.

Known as the Reseau Electrique Metropolitain (REM), the system would have 24 stations and operate 20 hours a day, CDPQ Infra officials said in a press release.

The project is expected to cost $5.5 billion (in Canadian dollars), with the Caisse committing $3 billion. The proposed financial structure would also require investments from the governments of Quebec and Canada.

When completed, the REM would be the third largest automated transportation system in the world after Dubai and Vancouver.

“A network as significant as the one we are proposing could potentially add more than $3 billion to the Quebec GDP over four years. We also expect close to $5 billion in private real estate developments along the chosen route,” said Christian Dube, executive vice president for Quebec at the Caisse.

CDPQ Infra will consult with stakeholders in the coming weeks. Public information sessions also will be held in areas affected by the new network.

CDPQ Infra officials anticipate submitting the project to the environmental impact hearing process by summer’s end.

The Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec is an institutional investor that oversees public pension plans and insurance programs in the province.