Canadian government to pay $1bn towards $4.5bn Quebec transit

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed last week that his government would make just under US$1bn (CAN1.28bn) of federal money available for a large scale light rail project to connect Montreal to its suburbs and the international airport.

"The Réseau Electrique Metropolitain (REM) is one of the most ambitious public transportation projects in our history," he said on 15 June, reports The Toronto Star.

"In addition to making it quicker and easier for millions of Quebec residents to get around, the REM will reduce the number of cars on the roads, help ease traffic and make the air cleaner."

Once completed, the 67km network will include 27 stations and operate 20 hours a day, seven days a week. It will link Montreal’s downtown to Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport as well as the areas north, south and west of the city.

The decision follows months of negotiation between the province of Quebec and Canada’s federal government. A failure to include the project in the federal budget aroused fears that the government had decided not to help.

The route of the proposed metropolitan electrified network (Calvin411/Creative Commons)

The government of Quebec, which has already committed some $1bn of its own money to the scheme, had been calling on Ottawa to provide at least $750m in funding.

The principal backer of the scheme is the Caisse de Depot pension fund, which has assigned $2.3bn. It announced its commitment in January 2015 and its CDPQ Infra arm is overseeing the work.

Michael Sabia, the chief executive of Caisse de Depot commented: "We’re pleased to have the government of Canada confirm the quality of the REM by investing in this ambitious project. This commitment is further proof of what can be accomplished through dialogue and collaboration."

In March this year it was announced that the price of the scheme had risen by $380m.

Top image: Video capture of a future REM train crossing the Champlain Bridge (CDPQ)

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