MONTREAL, Feb. 14 /CNW Telbec/ - Train de l'Ouest is grateful that the government has decided to launch the project to improve commuter rail service between downtown and the Western suburbs (the "Couronne Ouest" of Montreal), starting with the preparation of engineering studies. 

Since the announcement in the budget for 2010-2011 of a contribution of $ 200 million from Quebec for the construction of a dedicated exclusive airport shuttle, the grassroots movement "Train de l'Ouest" has mounted a campaign to promote the improvement of commuter rail service to the western suburbs of Montreal (the Couronne Ouest). The campaign came to a climax with a visit of the mayors and "Train de l'Ouest" to Quebec City in October to present a petition of 13 000 signatures to the National Assembly and make a case for improved commuter rail service to the Minister of Finance, Raymond Bachand and the Minister of Transport, Sam Hamad. 

Today's announcement by minister Hamad is the first response from the Quebec government to the campaign. 

The process has started, but is the "Train de l'Ouest" really ready to leave the station?

"While this is a first step," declared Train de l'Ouest spokesman Clifford Lincoln, "Quebec must put a priority on the construction of new rail lines to Ste Anne, set a time-table for construction, and provide adequate funds for the project in the next budget."

If Quebec agrees to make the project a priority and authorize the funds, construction of the new rail lines could be completed by 2014, in time to provide an effective means of mitigation to the work on the Turcot exchange and the Ville Marie Expressway.

"We must remember that, just as with the metro, the municipalities share in the deficit of the operation of the commuter trains. The more people that will use the train, the lower the deficits, so the timing of the beginning of the service is important", added Clifford Lincoln.

Traffic congestion and longer commute times are the main motivators for individuals to abandon cars for public transit, specifically trains. Experience in the US and Europe has shown that drivers prefer using trains to buses. To maximize ridership and reduce operational deficits, it is essential that the Train de l'Ouest be completed before work is started on the reconstruction of the Ville Marie Expressway. 

This reconstruction will reduce the capacity of the highway from Turcot to Atwater into the city by 40% during rush hour. This will not only affect residents of the West Island and Vaudreuil, but also from Chateauguay and the western part of Laval.

With the appropriate feeder bus lines and convenient parking, it is expected that the Train de l'Ouest will reduce the daily number of individual car trips by 4,000. This represents a significant reduction of the traffic coming from the West Island and Vaudreuil.

It will make employment opportunities in the "Couronne Ouest" available to Montreal residents who rely on rapid public transport. With trains running until midnight, Montreal's cultural vocation will be more accessible to West Island residents who wish to use the train to go downtown.

Finally, by building new tracks that will separate freight and passenger traffic, Canadian Pacific will be able to help grow container volumes passing through the port of Montreal. C.P.'s freight traffic would no longer be restricted by commuter trains.

Train de l'Ouest, a grassroots movement spearheaded by Clifford Lincoln, is mobilizing the population of the West Island and Vaudreuil-Soulanges in order to pressure the Quebec government to improve commuter rail service to these areas.

SOURCE Train de l'Ouest

For further information:

Valérie Gonzalo
514 626.6976

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