Construction delays hoist REM light-train's budget to $6.5 billion

Dec 18 2019, 7:35 am

The Réseau express métropolitain (REM), set to become the largest transportation network in Greater Montreal, is bringing a pretty large budget with it.

The REM will link downtown to the South Shore, the West Island, Montreal-North, and the Trudeau Airport and it has adjusted its budget by $230 million, ballooning the total to a hefty $6.5 billion.

The budget’s inflation is a result of preliminary works that have to be done on the Mount Royal Tunnel.

The tunnel’s closure is a pivotal step in building the REM’s route. Walls need reinforcement, tracks need to be replaced, and the tunnel needs new lights before the electric (and driverless) light-rail train can speed through the tunnel daily, every few minutes.

CDPD Infra, a subsidiary of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, which oversees the REM’s construction, announced that the closure of the Mount Royal Tunnel is being delayed from its initial January 6 closure and has been instead changed to March 30.

The tunnel’s work will result in a 3.6% inflation to the budget, equivalent to $230 million. CDPQ Infra says the work postponement will not impact the total amount of time the tunnel will be closed and says the REM network is still scheduled to open on time.

The REM’s South Shore line is scheduled to open to the public in late 2021 and the rest of the network will be up and running by 2023.

The integrated 67 km train system will provide access to 27 stations across the Montreal network and will run 20 hours a day, seven days a week. Once completed, it will be the fourth largest automated transportation system in the world after Singapore (82 km), Dubai (80 km), and Vancouver (68 km).