Montreal’s Mount Royal Tunnel Closed For Three Years

AMT Train 949 is approaching Mont-Royal station while AMT 950 slips into the Mount Royal Tunnel in the distance on May 14, 2015. Photo by Michael Berry.

Montreal’s Mount Royal Tunnel Closed For Three Years

By M.T. Burkhart

On May 8, the final trains rolled through Montreal’s historic Mount Royal Tunnel for at least three years. The rail line that goes through the tunnel — Canada’s only heavy rail electrified passenger operation — is being converted to light rail. The shutdown of Réseau de Transport Métropolitain’s Deux-Montagnes electrified line was originally set to begin in early January but was repeatedly delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The $6.5-billion Réseau Express Métropolitain (REM) light rail system broke ground in 2018. The route will be part of a wider network that will include four light rail lines connecting downtown, including one that will go to Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport. The system will open in 2023. It will include 26 stations over a 42-mile system.

The three-mile-long Mount Royal Tunnel, one of the longest in Canada, opened in 1918 and links Central Station (Gare Centrale) in the heart of Montreal to the northwest suburbs. The line became a destination for railfans in the 1980s and 1990s because of the vintage Canadian National boxcab electrics that were still in use on the line. The boxcabs were replaced by 58 Bombardier MR-90 multiple-unit electrics in 1995. 

The two stations northwest of the tunnel — Mount Royal and Canora — were combined in 2019 into one temporary station and the area single-tracked. No trains were running on weekends to accommodate the construction. The Canora and Mont-Royal stations will be among the first to be built for the new system, according to REM.

Once completed, the Montreal system will operate 20 hours a day and will be one of the largest automated transportation networks in the world, along with Singapore, Dubai and Vancouver, according to REM. For the metropolitan area, it also represents the largest public transportation infrastructure investment since the Montréal metro was inaugurated in 1966. Alstom announced in April that it will supply 212 Metropolis cars, or 106 train sets, for the new light rail system.

April 2020Read more about the Deux-Montagnes in Railfan & Railroad’s Extra Board or the April 2020 issue.

This article was posted on: May 12, 2020