Westmount doesn’t want trains on its train tracks

Apparently, the city council in Westmount isn’t keen on the idea of a high-speed rail link between downtown and the airport going through their little town on the lines currently used by the AMT commuter trains going to Windsor Station. Instead, they’d prefer if the route used tracks further south in St. Henri.

The reasoning is somewhat complicated, and has to do with some very technical aspects of the two tracks. In order to better explain it, I’ve created a diagram of the situation below:

As you can see, it’s better for everyone involved if the train uses the lower tracks.

(I realize this is classic NIMBYism and not specific to Westmount, but you’d think it would occur to them that such a suggestion without any reasons behind it would lead to this kind of impression.)

UPDATE: Aww Pat, I’m touched (again). Your kickback will be in the mail shortly. Pour vos lecteurs, vous pouvez lire mes billets sur les médias, Montréal et, surtout, sur Patrick Lagacé.

18 thoughts on “Westmount doesn’t want trains on its train tracks

  1. Eric

    Well, they are right in a way since the poor people probably need mass transit more then the rich people and that it runs along the Ville Marie it is that much further away from the poor people. But other then that I don’t see what their problem is since the track runs along Westmount’s border and along the highway and no one want to live there anyways. Besides, Westmount needs the tracks so they don’t get confused about where the other side is.

  2. Dupuis

    I’m one of the poor people living near the poor people tracks. Those tracks have no fence to block them from the poor kids who play around here. Actually, someone was killed there a few months ago and it wasn’t the first accident since I moved here. They should increase the train traffic up the hill where there are sound barriers and fences to protect the Westmounters. We’ve got enough problems already down here with expropriation of Cazelais, part of Desnoyers and 780 St Remi for the rebuilding of the Turcot (BTW the second time my little neighbourhood has been expropriated for a the highway).

  3. Jill

    Erm… trains CRAWL through St-Henri. I presume this is either due to noise or safety bylaws or track maintenance issues or some combination of both. This would presumably therefore make that line a poor choice for a so-called “high speed” link.

  4. JF Prieur

    I live in TMR near Canora and trust me, trains run through richer neighbourhoods as well. It’s just because it is Westmount.

  5. Dupuis

    VIA trains do not crawl through St Henri, and even the freight trains can go quite fast. The VIA train that hit someone in July sent him flying through the air. He landed on the street in a pulpy mess.

  6. Anon Imous

    Ditto on Dupuis’ comment. I live in one of those blocks that will be razed to make way for the new surface expressway…

  7. Daniel

    Well, don’t miss the airport part, there is plenty McJobs there too. So, yes, they need mass transit to the McJobs, then to the airport.

  8. Jean Naimard

    A few points.

    – The “poor people who need transit to get to the airport” are overwhelmingly employees. When I took a rush-bour sardine-express blue line train to O’Hare in Chicago, about 80% of the people who got off had airport ID badges on them. Of course, if the “airport” “express” charges $15 to go there, one cannot really expect employees to ride it… And you can bet your arse that taxi and limo companies will fight this nail and tooth… (Anyone here remembers the Murray-Hill riot???)

    – Rail lines are under federal jurisdiction. The only thing a city may tell railroads to do is not whistle at crossings (after paying beaucoup bux to make sure crossings are safe). There are no crossings in Westmount (in fact, the very first crossing on that line is Elmhurst avenue in Montréal, exactly 2 miles west of Westmount). So Westmount nimbyes can holler and poller as much as they want, the tracks were actually there first.

    – In comparison to the CN Montréal subdivision (which runs through St-Henri), the CP Westmount subdivision is barely used, and has no heavy freights running at all times of the day. If trains were to go on CN, they would be delayed and the airport service could not be deemed reliable; besides, CN is not likely to be very warm at the idea of having more passenger trains getting in the way of it’s very lucrative freights. In addition, if one wants to get to the airport from CN, you have to cross CP. So either you do it with a level (diamond) crossing, and thus risk being further delayed by AMT commuter and CP freight trains, or do it expensively with a flyover junction.

    – 50 years ago, there were not only about 200 trains going through Westmount, but also a whole passenger train maintenance yard (Glenn yard), so they really don’t know what they want.

    – The speed limit on the Montréal subdivision in St-Henri is 35 for freights and 45 for passengers and trains can do nothing to avoid something in it’s path; at 35, it takes at least ½ mile for a heavy freight to stop. So, it’s no wonder kids can be hit (the Émile Berliner park has no fence, as well as park d’Argençon in Pointe-St-Charles); in addition, the tracks closely shaving the wall of the Bon Accueuil mission right by the De-Courcelles crossing is a prime spot for a pedestrian to be caught by a train; per loading-gauge clearances, there is only 18 inches between the train side and the wall. But one expects as the Spaghetti-Junction is being torn-down and the tracks relocated further north, the track alignment through St-Henri will be optimized.

    This is really strange; usually, Westmount is a pretty good suburb in that it doesn’t do dirty callous things like other suburbs (like Mont-Royal locking it’s fence on Hallowe’een and kicking poor people out – I’ve been harassed by their pseudo-cops in the past while walking along the fence, Montréal-Ouest completely blocking access to parts of St-Pierre or Hampstead refusing to allow articulated buses to run on Queen-Mary or clotheslines) are so fond to do.

    Closing quote: “When I was a kid, we didn’t live on the wrong side of the tracks, but we could hear the whistle real loud!” — Richard M. Nixon.

    — Signed someone who lives ont the right side of the tracks in St-Henri.

  9. Fagstein Post author

    Well, the thousands of people who live in St. Henri and work at the airport can still take the 191 bus, or even walk to Lionel-Groulx and take the 211 express bus, to get there.

  10. Jill Murray

    #7- Maybe I have my city/borough boundaries wrong, but VIA trains do move slowly (35-45 according to comment #11) from the station to probably the western half of st-henri (all of which is admitedly not shown on the map above.) My point was simply that it’s not an efficient or safe route, particularly if the point is to quickly reach the airport.

  11. Corinthian Rick

    Good post for a change.

    You almost got thru writing it without mention of your uninteresting friends.

  12. Jean Naimard

    The 211 “express” bus is useless in rush hour; it is stuck in traffic, and it actually doesn’t go to the airport itself, no doubt thanks to the taxis… I mean, a single bus ride to the Métro? Oh! the humanity!!!

    The STM is apparently planning to introduce sometime next year an express bus to Dorval airport, but via the 520 (Côte-de-Liesse). Now talk about something even more useless, bringing people as far from downtown as possible!!!!

  13. Patrick Lagacé

    Fagstein, in reference to comment #14 : c’est la rançon de la gloire, quand on est lu, on attire inévitablement des tr*lls. Don’t sweat it :)

  14. Marc Dufour

    I am a **FOAMER** (which you can see when you click on my link) who lives a stone throw from the CN mainline “where the train should go”. Everytime a train rattles my house, I feel that deep tingle of satisfaction of yet another train going by.

    When I am outside when it happens, I pause to watch it go by.

    So, obviously, I would stand to benefit from that shuttle 10,000 going-bys per day, no?

    But going via the CN is a moronic idea. Totally, totaly moronic.

    You see, the CN line to Dorval is at least two miles longer than the CP line, and is in the middle of one of the busiest rail corridors in North-America. There is no way a shuttle train could operate there without significant delays.

    By contrast, the CP line is shared by freight trains for three miles out of about 10, and those freight trains to to a network terminus (CPR). So there is not much freight traffic. Furthermore, the CP line is on the side of the airport; going via CN would mean that the shuttle would have to cross the CP line, which would add more delays, or need an expensive viaduct in a spot where there is no room for a viaduct.

    In addition, trains on CP terminate at Windsor station, where the rails are at street level. So this means that, unlike in Central Station, airline passengers would not have to lug-up their bags upstairs.

    * * *

    Now, we heard a lot lately about a purported new terminal besides Windsor station.

    This is idiotic. There is no need for another rail terminal in downtown Montréal. Better consolidate both terminals; this way, the shuttle could take the CP route and still end-up at Central station.

    This could be done for much cheaper than the cost of a new rail station 60 feet up in the air by building a new viaduct to link Windsor to Central station.

    Here, I have all figured it out:

  15. Pingback: The airport-train link: Let’s put our cards on the table – Fagstein

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