With only days to go before the beginning of the critical important BAPE (Bureau d’Audiences Publiques sur l’Environment) hearings, CDPQ Infra announced that the purchase of the railway infrastructure leading into Montreal’s Central Station will fundamentally alter and improve the plans for the new electric commuter rail line project.
Originally devised as a PPP project between the provincial government and the CDPQ –Québec’s multi-billion dollar pension fund manager – the fully automated electric rail line will include 24 stations that stretch all the way from the south shore suburbs through to the Dorval Airport and on to assorted stations in and off the west island.
According to last week’s report, CDPQ Infra – the subsidiary that’s expected to manage the project – will purchase the railway infrastructure (including the overpass) that leads from Griffintown into Montreal’s Central Station. As this initiative will enable the new train line to use an established route to make its way into and through the station, CDPQ Infra will no longer have to build its own track through to the station in order to make its way under the mountain and on its way through to the island’s north-shore suburbs. As an added benefit, CDPQ Infra will no longer be forced to expropriate and destroy two well-known heritage buildings along with several inner-city streets (William, St. Paul and Dalhousie) that continue to define the immediate Griffintown neighborhood.
Although the new report indicates that there will be a sharp (10%) reduction in the number of expropriations to be done in order to make way for the trains, it also provides a number of details as to how CDPQ Infra plans to reduce the project’s environmental impact on assorted sensitive wetlands at both ends of the track. As the plan no longer calls for a tunnel under the Peel basin in order to push the track through to Montreal’s Central Station, there’s room to dig a new tunnel that will make its way under the Des Sources Nature Park all the way to Dorval’s Pierre-Elliott Trudeau airport after which the train will roll into the new techno-park that’s being planned for Ville St. Laurent. As both a massive parking lot as well as a bus station threatened to destroy the wetlands around the system’s new station in Ste. Anne de Bellevue, planners will now build the new facilities around the new Kirkland station.
While the new plan won’t cost more than the old one, the new electric commuter rail system is still expected to cost $5.5 Billion and ready for its first clients by the end of 2020.