Sunday, April 24, 2016

Montreal FutureTrain: why it should take southern route

 Montreal's newly-proposed $5B rail suburban passenger rail system has sparked much excitement but unfortunately it skirts some heavily-populated areas that could most use its services.
   Planners explained that logistical obstacles connected with the massive Turcot Interchange remake prevent the line from taking its natural course west, which would be along Highway 20, a route that they say would cost $1 billion extra.
   So if you are one of the half million souls living in Lasalle (75k) Lachine (40k) NDG (65k) Westmount (20k) Cote St. Luc (5k) Montreal West (5k) Verdun (65k) Cote St. Paul (12k) Ville Emard (18k) Cote des Neiges (165k) you'd have to spend around 30 minutes to get downtown just to access the train.
   So let's say you're living near city hall in Verdun and want to go to the airport. It would take you 30 minutes to get downtown and then another 30 minutes or more to get to the airport on the train, all told it would take one hour and a couple of fares, compared to a 15 minute drive in a Uber cab from your home.
   If the line gets built as is, it would be most useful to later add a line from the airport to some place like Vendome if that could be made possible.
  A train line from the airport to Angrignon metro would a slightly less impressive, but still useful alternative, as it would only need about eight kilometres of track.
    Residents of such places as Cartierville (130k) and St. Laurent (93k) as well as St. Eustache (44k) and Pierrefonds (40k) look to benefit from the train line as proposed.
   Ste Anne de Bellevue, which will become the western hub, stands to gain as the end-of-the-line although the station looks a little far from the gorgeous waterfront and village-like main street.

12 comments:

  1. The trick now will be to get moving on this without delay, thus avoiding the fatal error of stalling until the end of a political mandate and pending elections which have historically impeded major projects in Quebec as the opposition ALWAYS tries to defeat them or severely cut them back. Don't be surprised if this project is reduced considerably with priority given to one rail line over another thereby leaving the remainder to sit in limbo.

    The library shelves are full of long-dead "Master Plans" gathering dust: expensive, detailed "studies" which have filled the pockets of engineers and architects until the "can't afford it" naysayers interfere and inevitably get their way, thus dashing the public's hopes.

    Regarding the projected light-rail line approaching the airport through the Techno-park: exactly what route will be taken is a puzzle at first glance.

    Do they propose upgrading the CN's Industrial Spur railway tracks then run south alongside Autoroute 13 and west beside Cote Vertu into the airport property? Admittedly roundabout, this would nevertheless seem to be the least problematic and requiring less expropriation. I will assume the airport route is deliberately vague in order to discourage land speculators and NIMBY groups--a phenomenon going back generations and about which we are all too familiar concerning rights-of-way and the intractability of greedy land owners.

    What immediately comes to mind were those published, pretty maps of the never-completed Autoroute 13 and the vision of a high-speed rail line terminating at the subsequently-doomed Mirabel Airport as well as the ill-fated Turbo Train which briefly connected Montreal to Toronto in four hours--something we may never experience again.

    In conjunction with this idealistic new rail project, however, a western extension of the Metro Blue Line would neatly fill in the blanks regarding long-neglected districts.

    It is only political meddling which has continued to block this much-needed line which had, in fact, already been tentatively mapped-out in the 1980s but continually shelved ever since in favour of routes to the east and north.

    Such west end Metro stations would be located at the northeast corner of Monkland and Cavendish, another adjacent to the Elmhurst bus depot next to the Montreal West train station, yet another somewhere in the former Ville St. Pierre, and one terminating at LaSalle Park in Lachine.

    Shall we hold our collective breaths?

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  2. Great suggestion for those metro stations. I'm assuming you mean those new stops would be linked to Vendome? If so the distance between Vendome and Cavendish/Monkland is pretty significant, I'd put a station midway, around Belgrave and Sherbrooke.

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  3. The proposed train is the cheapest solution to the problem.

    Any more southernly route is already taken, and it would be much more expensive to implement it through there.

    The only new construction is the track between the Downey spur (it follows Hymus boulevard, Chimples) and the airport, and the extension to the pont-bridge Champlain to Brossard.

    Everything else either already exists or is (kinda) free for the taking.

    Of course it would be great to go on from Angrinon Métro on the old CPR right-of-way, then up the CPR line to the Meadowbrook golf course, then turn left towards the airport on the CPR and onwards, but the CPR is going to ask billions for it's track. No government is going to pour billions to go to the Waste-Island, which always blindly votes liberal no matter what.

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  4. The Metro Blue Line would obviously extend west from Snowdon with the added stations being geographically determined by using a magnifying glass on that rudimentary, 1980s-era Metro extension plan that Mr. Rotrand bewilderingly dismisses out-of-hand as being "unnecessary because nobody wants it". Presumably, he would prefer that west end commuters continue to jam themselves into already-overcrowded busses for another generation or two and certainly until after Ville d'Anjou gets their also long-promised Metro station.

    How about building both extensions at the same time?

    Incidentally, the existing Vendome Metro site was a compromise location. An earlier plan was to place the station somewhere around Sherbrooke and Northcliffe Avenue, but that would have required more residential and commercial expropriation, not to mention NIMBY opposition which is why the corners of city-owned public parks are a more reasonable alternative.

    Of course, a Google search will bring up countless "fan-plan" variations of a potential future Metro serving the entire Montreal metropolitan area, but our winters demand that the Metro MUST continue to remain underground. No cheap surface extensions. Witness the closure of much of NYC's outdoor subway lines during blizzards thus rendering the rest of the network inadequate.

    Furthermore, Metro expansion should be an ongoing project as it has traditionally been in other cities such as London and Berlin. Toronto doesn't hesitate, either, to run new subway lines to "nowhere" (e.g. Vaughan) because they understand that population growth will follow and land values increase thus transforming "nowhere" into somewhere after all.

    The Quebec government has too often pitted one district against another for political purposes when it came to serving one district over another: nonsense that must end once and for all.

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  5. Oh I forgot that blue line even exists. It's not my favourite.

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  6. Oh I forgot that blue line even exists. It's not my favourite.

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  7. Personally, I like the Blue Line as it allows me a quick route across the city while the Orange Line is slower and often overloaded.

    As I recall, the Blue Line was originally promoted for use by students of the University of Montreal, and I'm sure they appreciate its existence.

    Yes, the line is relatively under-used but at some point increased traffic will demand the complete 9-car trains thus superseding the current 6-car ones. Relevant platform lengthening will then be necessary for specific stations.

    The Blue Line also has its own specific access track into the Youville Shops.

    It certainly pays to study the transit map when choosing access from point A to point B, however, for those who may have already noticed, the latest 2015 fold-out map is poorly thought-out because its bus route details are vague and confusing compared to earlier editions. Hold on to your 2014 map.

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  8. I'm curious about the Champlain Bridge portion of the proposed network. I assume that these trains would run on the separate central roadway of the bridge, in the space shown on presentation videos as reserved bus lanes. Does that mean that buses will be relegated back to a reverse lane at rush hours? Or is the plan to just dump whatever buses continue to run over the bridge in with general traffic, thereby ensuring their delay every day? Or will ALL commuter buses terminate on the South Shore, requiring a transfer to continue into the city?

    My vague recollection is that early plans included both a separate bus lane and room for a train, but I seem to remember that was nixed early on. So if this train does get built, what's the operational plan for the bridge?

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  9. On the Champlain it looks to be a hybrid roadway with tracks so it can be used by both the LRT and buses. The better plan would be all-LRT and dump most of the buses, with the few remaining using the regular traffic lanes.

    As for Lachine, a tram-train is coming but it won't be ready till the new 20 is built. It will run from Victoria & 28th to downtown along long, long-unused track. This one is project unto itself.

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  10. Very solid analysis of why the plan is doomed to failure: http://www.cat-bus.com/2016/05/how-the-caisses-light-rail-system-will-crumble-under-its-own-weight/

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  11. It should be no surprise that other cities besides Montreal have procrastinated in extending their subway systems:

    See: https://ca.yahoo.com/news/nearly-45-years-nyc-subway-160703485.html

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  12. The latest Metro dreams to tantalize the public:

    http://www.iheartradio.ca/cjad/news/mayoralty-hopeful-floats-proposal-for-new-crosstown-metro-line-1.2232288

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