Catenary Work Halted on Montreal Light Rail Project Following Equipment Runaway Incident (Updated)

A map of Montreal’s under construction REM light rail system. (Metropolitan Express Network)

MONTREAL — Catenary work on the Réseau express métropolitain’s light rail transit project has been temporarily halted while authorities investigate an incident Monday involving a swept-away piece of equipment involved in the construction of the track.

The CBC reports a resident of a building overlooking the Champlain Bridge in Montreal captured video footage of the yellow maintenance vehicle driving out of control into the Île-des-Sœurs REM station, where it came to a sudden stop.

No one was injured, but significant damage resulted, and Quebec’s occupational health and safety organization, CNESST, ordered a halt to catenary work on the 41.6-mile network. while she investigates the incident, but other forms of work may continue.

NouvLR, the construction consortium for the project, told the CBC in a statement that the vehicle experienced a technical failure, causing it to descend the bridge to the station. “The vehicle was stopped by the protective measures installed on the tracks specifically to ensure the health and safety of our workers in the event of these unforeseen events,” the statement said. “Further investigation is underway to understand the circumstances of the incident.”

The project is overseen by CDPQ Infra, the infrastructure arm of the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, the province’s pension fund manager, which is providing the financing.

A CNESSET spokeswoman said work specifically related to the construction of the REM catenary system has been suspended and will remain halted until the agency receives a report on the investigation into Monday’s incident.

The REM project is already behind schedule. While some parts were originally scheduled to start operating in the fall of 2023, the system is not expected to open again until late 2024. [see “Opening of Montreal light rail system delayed,” Trains News Wire, June 21, 2022].

— Updated at 10:10 a.m. CDT to clarify that only work related to the catenary system has been halted, correct source of incident comment, and update link to source article.

Jose P. Rogers