Caisse de Depot denies REM project behind schedule

REM

The builders of the new REM light rail network say the project will be up and running by the end of 2021 — despite a La Presse report on Tuesday suggesting the grand opening could be pushed back another two years.

The online news outlet obtained the 150-page report from NouvLR, the engineering construction firm leading the project. It suggested that the redesign of the Mount Royal tunnel was more complicated than first thought, and that completion of the work would be delayed for about two years.

For instance, the north and southbound tracks inside the tunnel would need to be separated by a wall, and the ventilation system would also have to be improved in case of fire — improvements which would cost hundreds of millions of dollars more than originally budgeted.

The report also suggests only 41 per cent of the final design of the project has been approved, and not the 90 per cent expected at this point.

The Caisse de Depot issued a statement on its web site on Tuesday downplaying the report, saying the project is on schedule — and may even be a little bit ahead.

"The document [obtained by La Presse]...only represents the point of view of the consortium in what are typical discussions on the project and its budget," the statement reads. "These discussions have been occurring regularly, every month, since the start of the project. This is a normal monitoring mechanism.”

As things stand now, the project is slated to cost $6.3 billion.