About those two stations

A curious bystander who looks at a map of Montreal’s subway and train networks together would quickly ask themselves a question: Why are there no transfer points where some of these lines cross?

Recently, the Agence métropolitaine de transport decided to ask itself this question in terms of two crossings of the Montreal-Deux-Montagnes train line:




and McGill.

Both of these stations are close enough to the Mount Royal Tunnel that such a concept theoretically would make sense.

But it’s not that easy…

The AMT commissioned a pre-feasibility study to see about creating underground train stations near these metro stations. “Pre-feasibility” basically means “is this even possible?” and “does this even make sense?” If both of those answers are “yes”, then it comes to the more complicated feasibility study, which determines how it will be done and how much it will cost.

The study is available as a PDF here, but I’ll summarize some salient findings:

  • Each station would have a central platform with tracks going around it. The layout would be similar to what was done to add the third platform at Henri-Bourassa metro, diverting trains in one direction out of the main tunnel and into a side-tunnel that would later rejoin it. The McGill station would have an extra platform which would link directly with the Eaton Centre.
  • The total cost is guesstimated (it’s really just a shot in the dark) at about $300 million. This doesn’t include the cost of actually running the stations, just of building them.
  • The study actually recommends against building the McGill station, due mostly to the disruption it would cause (imagine, caring about the disruption of the construction process!), as well as its proximity to the more than adequate Central Station (the two are already connected through underground tunnels that take about 10 minutes to traverse).
  • It expects about 10 per cent of incoming passengers will get off at the Edouard-Montpetit station (230 out of a capacity 2300) and the same number would get on at the same station heading downtown.

Oh, and one other thing: the Mount Royal Tunnel is 71 metres below ground at the Edouard-Montpetit station, meaning a runnel connecting them would have to go down 20 storeys. (see the map: Mount Royal Tunnel cross-section)

This causes two problems: How to get people up and down conveniently, and how to get people up in an emergency. The first is solved through the use of large, high-speed elevators that would zip people up an down. The second is a bit more complicated:

20 storeys

Fire safety codes require new underground installations such as this one to be able to evacuate everyone within six minutes. That’s plainly impossible in this case. Anyone who’s not a marathon runner won’t be able to walk 20 storeys up in a lifetime, to say nothing of doing it before a fire sucks out the oxygen you’re so desperately trying to breathe. So instead the study proposes the use of isolation areas, which would block out the fire and provide oxygen to people escaping the fire.

It’s pretty detailed for a “pre-feasibility” study. And the Edouard-Montpetit station transfer makes sense. It will allow those coming in by train a quicker way to get to U de M and areas east and southeast of there faster and without going through downtown. It will also allow people at and near U de M a much faster, direct link to downtown, taking some pressure off the two legs of the Orange Line which takes people around the mountain.

And I have to agree with the McGill station put-down as well. It’s just too close to Central Station already (about 5 blocks), and shutting the second-busiest metro station for entire summers just to connect a train line to it is a bit much.

Perhaps it’s a bit of irony: the deeper station makes the most sense, in part because it’s so much deeper.

The Gazette yesterday reported on the study, with a strange followup ridiculously suggesting that the AMT would stop sending trains to Central Station altogether (it quotes an AMT spokesperson who either is talking out of her ass or is being misunderstood).

7 thoughts on “About those two stations

  1. Kate M.

    My impression is that, politically, if they built a station near McGill they’d have to commit to building one near the U de M, whether or not that made sense.

    The Mount Royal tunnel is kind of fascinating. There must be quite an (untold) story about why and how it got built. I have wondered if anyone’s entered it at Jean-Talon and walked through to Central Station.

  2. Christopher DeWolf

    I’m actually kind of surprised you don’t think much of the potential McGill College station. I think it would be a great way to boost ridership and make the train more convenient to downtown office workers and students alike. 5 block/10 minutes makes a big difference in the average public transit commute.

    Building these two stations, especially the McGill College one, would also pave the way for the future “metroization” of the Deux Montagnes commuter line — since it’s already electrified, upgrading service and adding a few stations would be a bargain-basement way to build a new metro line.

    As for the Edouard Montpetit plan, there is already a half-finished elevator shaft left over from when the metro station was first built.

  3. Fagstein Post author

    I’m not entirely against a McGill station, but the report suggests the metro station would need to be closed for entire summers at a time in order to construct it. This would be a huge impact on the metro system in exchange for maybe improving ridership on a commuter train line which is already well above capacity during rush hours.

    “Metroization” could take effect now if only the fare structure could be harmonized. If people could freely transfer between trains and buses and metros, commuter train use within the city would skyrocket. Unfortunately, we live in a system where travelling by bus from Pointe-aux-Trembles to Ste. Anne de Bellevue costs less than taking a train from downtown to Cartierville.

  4. Andrew Dawson

    Keep in mind that the reason why there is no line 3 of our metro system, is that back in the 1960’s they were thinking about upgrading the Two Mountains commuter train line to some thing almost RER like, with trains running on what would have been metro like headways!

    In transit, Andrew Dawson

  5. Brad

    This made me think of that aerial tram that people wanted to build that would link the island to the South Shore. Couldn’t you link the Blue Line stations to downtown over the mountain via one of these? I’m not an urban planner, but it seems like it would be (if done subtly) a less-invasive, and maybe cheaper way to cross the park, and cemeteries; while at the same time, making them accessible, than tracks on, or under the ground. Commuters wouldn’t have to circle the mountain, and it wouldn’t hurt tourism either. I think It would be cool to take one from the market, to the overlook, to the roof of PVM, and I don’t know, the Peel Basin, and on to Nun’s Island, and the South Shore.


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