REM construction blamed for new commuter train delays

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REM construction blamed for commuter delays
WATCH ABOVE: Citing work on the REM, Exo has announced it can no longer ensure commuter trains will be on time on the Deux-Montagnes and Mascouche lines. Dan Spector reports – Jul 19, 2018

More delays are in store for commuters who count on the Deux-Montagnes and Mascouche train lines.

Service will be dramatically reduced as work on the new electric REM train ramps up.

It’s not what commuters at the Roxboro-Pierrefonds station wanted to hear Thursday morning.

“For it to be crippled for years in advance, of the reason for it being crippled is unacceptable,” said Sandy Weigens, who commutes on the Deux-Montagnes from the West Island to the city daily.

Construction on all four lines of the REM is expected to last until 2023, when the new train system is scheduled to open.

READ MORE: Montreal’s commuter train network promises to improve services

“I mean, we have to live with it,” said Baby Sy, who also commutes on the line.

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For commuters who have had their patience tested by delays caused by extreme heat this summer and severe cold this winter, as well as a recent fare increase, this new round of issues is tough to accept.

“There has to be a better way. There is an obligation on behalf of the rail company to provide service. We pay for this pass, and with that comes the expectation that we will have service,” Weigens said.

READ MORE: Montreal commuters furious as cold weather delays RTM trains

The reason for the latest disruption is due to construction of the Réseau express métropolitain (REM) transit system between the Montpelier station and the Mount Royal Tunnel.

Rail traffic has been reduced to just one track out of two. The Deux-Montagnes and Mascouche lines have to share the single rail.

Exo, the recently renamed transit authority that serves greater Montreal’s northern and southern rings, says it can’t promise people will get to work on time.

“I’ve been considering moving out of town, out of the West Island,” Sy said.

Exo said it is trying to figure out how to compensate affected customers.

According to a letter obtained by 24 Heures, Exo wants to give Deux-Montagnes and Mascouche users 30 per cent discounts on their monthly passes.

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READ MORE: REM construction could bring transit headaches

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“All the people they’re offering the discount would be happier with reliable service and no discount,” argued Weigens.

Free shuttle buses and possibly making the Deux-Montagnes line service free in 2020 may happen too, but nothing is confirmed.

Exo refused to comment Thursday morning.

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