Here's the latest from the Gazette:
It’s not the 1.8 kilometres that it had initially proposed, but the Town of Mount Royal said Monday it is happy with a deal to cover a small portion of the tracks in the centre of the city.
Planners of the Réseau express métropolitain (REM) announced Monday morning they had come to an agreement to cover a section of 150 metres of train tracks in the Town of Mount Royal — stretching between two bridges currently being used by cars.
“It will become a public space, and I think all citizens will be very happy with this,” T.M.R. Mayor Philippe Roy said.
The suburb that owes its existence to the railway raised alarm bells last year about the dramatic increase in trains that the REM project would entail — going from 62 per day up to 550.
When it comes into operation gradually between 2022 and 2024, the T.M.R. branch of the line will serve as a feeder line to four separate branches of the rail network, which stretches to Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, the city of Deux-Montagnes, the airport and Central Station, linking to the South Shore over the Samuel-de-Champlain Bridge. Trains will be passing through T.M.R. at the rate of one every 2.5 minutes during rush hours, which stretch over six hours each weekday. Outside of those periods, the trains will run roughly every five minutes. Trains will be in service 20 hours a day, from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. The REM is being built with federal and provincial money, with the majority coming from the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), the province’s public pension manager.
As a way to reduce the noise from the trains, T.M.R. had proposed to cover the entire section of the tracks in its municipality, stretching from the Metropolitain Expressway to Jean-Talon St.
However, REM planners had rejected that idea, saying it was impossible to do within the project’s budget and timeframe.
On Monday, a new plan was unveiled — to cover over a section in the centre of the town and creating a public space that would be a natural extension to the large Connaught Park in the centre of the town, across from the Mount Royal Train Station, which will be refitted as part of the project.
“This is a first step, and it opens the door to recovering other sectors of the tracks,” Roy said.
Harout Chitilian, a spokesperson for CDPQ Infra — the infrastructure arm of the pension fund — said planners have made adjustments to their plan to integrate the project into T.M.R. in order not to increase its overall cost. He said a sound wall blocking the view of the station has been cancelled, and a passageway that had been planned, which was denounced by several residents as unsightly, has been cancelled. A temporary passageway will be built instead. The Town of Mount Royal will put forward $6.5 million toward the project, according to the agreement.
The new public space will be 23,000 square feet.
Roy said, however, that his residents remain concerned about noise levels that the project could bring to the quiet municipality, but said he has been given assurances that the overall noise from the trains would be less than the ones that currently go through the city.