MONTREAL — Quebec-based pension fund the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec (CDPQ) has unveiled plans to extend the REM light rail project currently under construction with a new network of rail and stations through east Montreal.
The announcement was made Dec. 15. The new project, to be undertaken by Caisse subsidiary CDPQ Infra and called REM de l’Est, will consist of 32 kilometres of light rail and 23 new stations and comes with an initial budget estimate of $10 billion.
Combined with the original project, the entire REM project will represent one of the largest automated transit networks in the world, with 99 kilometres of rail and 49 stations, stated a release.
A statement indicated the Quebec government approved the project after receiving a report on its technical and economic viability. The report is said to confirm that the project meets the transportation needs of local communities and allows CDPQ to generate adequate returns for its investors.
It is expected the new project will create 9,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction. The system will transport 133,000 users per day by 2044, the CDPQ estimates.
The new tracks will create new north–south and east–west travel axes, while adding a new light rail line in downtown Montreal between the metro’s orange and green lines. There will be four stations in the Rene-Levesque Boulevard corridor. The network will link Montreal-Est and the boroughs of Riviere-des-Prairies – Pointe-aux-Trembles, Montreal-Nord, Saint-Leonard, Rosemont-Petite-Patrie, Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and Ville-Marie.
CDPQ Infra will set up technical workshops and it is planned that the project will be submitted to the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement for review as early as 2021.
The CDPQ will lead the project as investor and manager with contributions expected from the Quebec and Canadian governments.
The original project currently has a projected cost of $6.5 billion with the CDPQ as the main investor and other investors including the provincial government, Hydro-Quebec and the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
The start of construction is targeted for mid-2023 and the system could start operations in 2029.
“I am very happy that today, we are fulfilling one of our major promises for Montreal’s east end,” commented Premier of Quebec Francois Legault in the release. “We are announcing the largest investment ever made in public transit in Quebec, with major economic benefits. The east end of Montreal has great economic potential, but at the moment, public transit services in this part of the city are not up to par. We promised that a CAQ government would change that. I’m extremely proud that we’re delivering on our promise.”