CDPQ Infra tempers expectations: while there will certainly be “no third postponement” of the first section of the Metropolitan Express Network (REM) on the South Shore, users will however have to plan for a “break-in period” for the new systems until September, to make sure to “fix the blemishes”.

“There are drastic changes in habits for customers to which we will inevitably have to adjust, to be sure that we are responding to demand and correcting imperfections. It will be to ensure that the system debugs, in other words, “explained the vice-president of exploitation and operation of the REM, Denis Andlauer, on Friday during a visit to the REM facilities in Brossard.

His group is giving itself until the “next school year”, in September, in order to complete this break-in phase. “There are small breakdowns that we will not see until the customers are on board. The doors, for example, will not have been banged until there are good numbers of users,” Andlauer notes.

Next Monday, a “complete train evacuation” exercise is also planned to prepare the teams. Reliability tests must also take place in the coming weeks, including what CDPQ Infra calls “dry running”, which consists of running the REM system as if it were in service, from Monday to Sunday and from morning to evening, with the only exception that there are no passengers.

Only after all of these tests are complete “will the REM be put into service,” says Andlauer. “We will open as soon as it is fully reliable, but we will take the time necessary. […] We are closer than ever, we will open in a few weeks, ”he illustrates.

However, the manager is unequivocal: “there will be no third postponement” of the South Shore section, still scheduled “this spring”, i.e. before June 21. Last Sunday, on the set of Tout le monde en parle, the president and chief executive officer of the Caisse de depot, Charles Emond, revealed that the date for the commissioning of the REM would be a “Friday”, without, however, saying move forward on a date.

About 28 of the 54 two-car trains, which is also equivalent to 14 four-car trains, will be exclusively dedicated to the commissioning of the first section. With these numbers, “there is no issue” in the short term, considers Denis Andlauer. “We have trains in droves” for this first stage, he believes.

If all goes well, the 16 km trip between Brossard and Central Station in downtown Montreal should take “less than 18 minutes” with the REM, which will have five stations. “It’s impossible to do that in a car, I’ll tell you right now,” the VP continues.

In several areas, including between Du Quartier and Panama stations and on the Samuel-De Champlain Bridge, trains are expected to travel at a top speed of 100 km/h. On average, a train will spend 3 min 30 s during peak hours, and 7 min 30 s during off-peak periods. Once all the sections have been delivered, the objective is however to go to 2 min 30 s on the central leg.

Fully automated and operating 20 hours a day, the REM system will be able to rely on several facilities to “wake up the trains” in the morning and “give them an order”, for example to make 50 round trips between Brossard and downtown. La Presse was able to visit the train storage workshop on Friday, where employees will be able to virtually give missions to each train, from a control center.

There are also “about 250 employees” who will work on the delivery of the first section, both in maintenance during the night and in customer service during the day, or even in technology. In a few years, once the REM is fully delivered, there will be more than 400 workers. Two light maintenance workshops were built to repair “minor breakages” on the trains, in Brossard and Deux-Montagnes. For major repairs, trains will have to go to Saint-Eustache.

Many Montrealers were wondering: no, CDPQ Infra did not perform REM reliability tests during the most recent episode of ice storms in the city, which plunged hundreds of thousands of people into darkness. The reason: NouvLR Consortium “finalization work” was underway, which prevented the trains from running. “That said, I can tell you the whole infrastructure, so our catenaries, the rails, the gates, everything worked well,” Mr. Andlauer nevertheless qualifies on this subject.