Construction of Montreal's new REM light-rail transit system will mean some headaches for West Island commuter train users.
Starting this Friday evening, there will be no service on weekends on the Deux-Montagnes commuter train line for the foreseeable future.
CDPQ Infra, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec subsidiary responsible for the $6.3-billion project, announced Wednesday that the service reduction is necessary in order to carry out work to modernize the line as well as to build new REM stations.
Weekday service will continue, but there will be schedule changes and a reduction in service starting in June, with two morning departures and one evening departure dropped from the schedule, which may cause problems on a line that was beset by delays this winter.
Two Friday evening trains on the Mascouche line will also be cancelled.
But that's not all.
Starting in 2020, an entire segment of the Deux-Montagnes line running from Du Ruisseau station to Central station will be closed for two years. A shuttle bus service will be offered as an alternative.
The regional metropolitan transport authority (ARTM) says it will introduce measures to mitigate the impact, including increasing service on bus lines, shuttle buses to Metro stations and special unlimited weekend OPUS cards for monthly commuter train pass holders.
How to get an unlimited weekend pass
The weekend OPUS card will allow those who pay for their train passes annually and monthly to continue using the service without having to pay extra.
The pass will be valid starting at 4 p.m. Fridays until Sept. 30. The offer is currently set to expire at that point, although other measures may be announced in the meantime, a spokesperson said.
It will only be available to commuters who use the Deux-Montagnes and Mascouche lines, live in specific areas and mail in a request to get one.
But for commuters who want to use the train this weekend, the unlimited weekend pass will be distributed at all stations on the Deux-Montagnes line on Friday, starting at 7 p.m., and all day Saturday and Sunday.
Occasional train users will be able to buy unlimited weekend Opus passes, valid for one weekend, for $13.75 at the Montmorency Metro station, Central Station or at the automatic ticket machines at stations on the Deux-Montagnes and Mascouche train lines.
Work to build two new REM stations on the South Shore will mean a reduction in lanes, to two in each direction, along a stretch of Highway 10 near the current Panama bus terminal, starting in 2019.
And starting this fall in downtown Montréal, the east side of McGill College will be closed between Ste-Catherine Street and De Maisonneuve Boulevard for excavation work for a new REM station.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the REM took place two weeks ago. The line is expected to be partially operational as soon as 2021.
The REM will have 26 stations, span 67 kilometres and link downtown Montreal, the South Shore, the West Island, the North Shore and the airport.
It will operate 20 hours a day, seven days a week.