Sydney's Metro is using the same trains the REM will — it's not going well
After years of political indecision and construction delays, Sydney's Metro system finally opened to the public earlier this month. Its automated, driverless trains are the same make and model — Alstom's Metropolis series — that are set to be used on Montreal's upcoming electric train network, the Réseau express métropolitain.
But if the Metropolis's performance in the Sydney Metro is any indication, commuters planning to use the REM could be in for a rough ride.
Like Montreal, Sydney has never used driverless computer-driven trains before the Metropolis. Perhaps that's part of the reason why Australia's largest city has seen issue after issue with the trainsets since their introduction to service two weeks ago.
The latest incident, in the middle of the Friday morning rush-hour, saw a train arrive at Chatswood station — the Metro's southern terminus — and fail to open its doors, before continuing out of the station, with a full load of passengers trapped aboard. And that's far from an isolated incident.
Metropolis trains on Syndey's Metro have also overshot station platforms, run at incorrect intervals, and once, a train ground to a halt between two stations because it had simply stopped communicating with the network's central computer.
When the official paint scheme for Montreal's Metropolis trains was unveiled to the media earlier this spring, officials from CDPQ Infra — which is overseeing the REM's construction — distanced themselves from the Metropolis nameplate, suggesting to reporters that the trainsets the REM will be using were "designed specifically for Montreal".
However, the trains are in effect simply shortened and winterized versions of standard Metropolis trains, with few technical distinctions setting the REM's rolling stock apart from the ones in use in Sydney.
Alstom could not be reached for comment on this story.
Roberta Rice, an associate professor of politics at The University of Calgary