Train de l’Ouest remains a priority for AMT
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
Nicolas Girard, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Agence Métropolitain de Transport (AMT), said work is continuing to improve the level of service provided to commuters who regularly use the Hudson/Vaudreuil-Dorion rail line that runs through the West Island to downtown Montreal.
The realization of the long anticipated Train de l’Ouest that would connect southwestern West Island municipalities to downtown Montreal with a dedicated rail line remains a priority for the Agence Métropolitain de Transport (AMT), said president and Chief Executive Officer Nicolas Girard.
Girard made his comments during a lunch hour press conference for media representatives at the Holiday Inn Pointe Claire on Tuesday afternoon, May 20, ahead of a public information meeting that was held later in the evening that updated the current state of commuter rail service along the Hudson/Vaudreuil-Dorion rail line that runs along the West Island to Montreal.
Measures to be undertaken this year to improve the rail line include the modernization of the current signalization system which will improve the efficiency of rail traffic, and reducing the number of delays that are prevalent along the track during the morning and afternoon rush hour commutes.
“Commuters have told us it’s important to improve service because the population of the West Island keeps increasing,” Girard told Your Local Journal. “We’re working with various partners including Canadian Pacific (CP), Aéroports de Montréal, the Ministry of Transport, municipal mayors, and Train de l’Ouest representatives, and now we’re ready to present our proposals to the provincial government.
“In the end, it will be up to the Quebec government to decide on the type of service that will be offered in the region,” Girard added. “It’s an important issue for the government and the AMT. We should offer the best possible service for West Island citizens.”
He noted that the first phase of the multiphase proposal to make Train de l’Ouest become a reality would begin with improvements to the rail connection that would provide easier access to Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport in Dorval.
Discussions will also have to take place with CP in regards to improving train service in the West Island and off island communities of Hudson and Vaudreuil-Dorion, said Girard. “It’s part of the plan because if we want to offer more services, we’ll have to have a deal with CP and discuss the issues with them because they are a partner,” he said.
Part of discussions will involve dealing with increased freight traffic along the CP line, which at times disrupts the morning and afternoon rush commute. An estimated 3.8 million commuters currently use the passenger trains on weekdays, with usage expected to grow as the population in the region keeps increasing.
Girard said West Island mayors signed a letter that was sent to CP to complain about the numerous commuter train delays that occurred in 2013, saying it was unacceptable; a stance that is shared by the AMT. Most of the delays occurred because CP freight trains were using the tracks during the morning rush hour commute when precedence should be given to the AMT commuter trains.
“It’s unacceptable for the AMT because we have a contract to use the track with CP,” said Girard. “We think the contract should be respected. We had a lot of meetings with CP to discuss this matter and since then, in 2014, we’ve had better results. We still want to put some more pressure on CP to make sure they respect the contract with the AMT.”
Clifford Lincoln, a spokesperson for the Train de l’Ouest coalition that has been working with the AMT to realize the project, said he hopes to meet soon with newly elected Premier Philippe Couillard and Transport Minister Robert Poëti shortly to further discuss the issue of a dedicated commuter rail line.
“What we want is to have the Train de l’Ouest recognized in the new budget and in future budgets, even if it’s only a nominal amount to show that the project is an on-going concern and more than just ideas and good wishes,” said Lincoln.