I have fond memories of riding the Docklands Light Railway in London as a child, mere days after it opened.
Here in Montreal, we’re about to get a similar light rail network, but updated for the modern age. Nostalgia hits hard.
With one day until the REM officially opens to the public, a privileged few were invited to ride the system in advance of its opening. We were given free range to ride around, hop off at the various stations and take photos.
First general impressions are very impressive indeed. It’s the kind of network I can imagine being the norm in cities such as Hong Kong or Tokyo. So to see something like this implemented here in North America is extremely promising, and very exciting!
Some unfiltered observations before the photos:
- The system is longer than I was expecting. It extends deep into Brossard.
- The stations were extremely spacious. Apparently each section of the system will have a station colour scheme: Gare Centrale is white, and the stations in Brossard are yellow.
- I was expecting a four car train to be unsuited to the expected usage, but these trains are wide, especially compared to the Metro. If they nail the frequency, I don’t think they’ll have any trouble managing the footfall.
- It’s hard to gauge the outside noise levels, but the noise was fine from within the stations and on the train. They do rumble as they pull in though.
- They seem to have handled the hunting oscillation which is seen on other light rail systems, most famously the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) in London. But, you can feel it slightly. It will no doubt help soothe tired commuters.
- There was no obvious air conditioning in the stations. I couldn’t tell if maybe it did exist, but was switched off. However, as the stations are mostly made of windows, this could be a problem…
- The views from the train, especially on the approach to Montreal are absolutely exceptional. Tourists visiting Montreal should ride this train just for the views of the skyline and surrounding areas.
More fully formed thoughts are coming from others in the coming days, but I’ll probably return with a more detailed post in a few months after the system has bedded in, the novelty has lessened and become a de-facto part of Montreal’s transit network.
A couple of videos. A view as a seated passenger:
And some assorted video clips:
And finally, swag from the preview event!
Huge thanks to Mike of London Reconnections for the opportunity to preview the REM and Richard for joining me for the afternoon.