It seems like forever that we’ve been arguing over which route should be taken by the new train linking Trudeau airport with downtown. In fact, I wrote about the debate almost two years ago.
Airport train's possible routes: CP route to Lucien L'Allier (red) and CN route to Central Station (blue)
Using existing railways, there are two possible routes, each of which ends at a different terminus:
- Using CP tracks that go through NDG and Westmount, ending at Lucien L’Allier station just outside the Bell Centre. This is the same path used by the Dorion/Rigaud train line.
- Using mainly CN tracks, passing through the Turcot interchange and St. Henri and ending at Central Station. This is the path used by VIA trains to Toronto and Ottawa.
This debate is in the news again because Aéroports de Montréal (which runs the airport) and the Agence métropolitaine de transport (which runs the commuter trains) are having a pissing match, refusing to give in on their choices. The AMT wants to use the CP route, because it’s cheaper and because it uses tracks (and stations) already used by the AMT. ADM wants to use the CN route because it leads to Central Station and downtown hotels.
Both camps are now using quantitative data to make their cases. Joël Gauthier, of the AMT, points to the fact that the CP route is significantly less expensive – $786 million vs. $1.1 billion. James Cherry, of the ADM, points to a study that shows ridership would be 22 per cent higher if the train ended at Central Station.
Various third parties are also jumping in, some on Cherry’s side making the Central Station argument, others on Gauthier’s side for Lucien L’Allier.
Despite what both these men think, the issue is neither obvious nor is there a desperate need to make a snappy decision. Yeah, it’s been years, but these studies are only coming to light now, and this kind of study is the difference between a billion-dollar project and a billion-dollar boondoggle.
That said, unless there’s some other serious study that needs to be done, it’s about time to make a decision. So let’s put all our cards on the table. Here are, from what I can see, the benefits of each route: