Montreal’s new hypothetical airport train station

The shell of a train station is finally taking shape underneath Trudeau Airport — but, unless the federal and provincial governments cough up a hefty chunk of cash, there won’t be any trains to serve it. La Presse reports today that Aéroports de Montréal, the private, non-profit corporation that manages the airports in Dorval and Mirabel, has spent $25 million to build a new airport train station without any guarantee of an airport rail link. It’s basically a massive bargaining chip, one that ADM hopes will persuade Ottawa and Quebec City to finally implement the high-speed airport train they’ve been talking about for years.

Le nouvel immeuble aéroportuaire, où sera logé le hall des départs vers les États-Unis, a coûté 300 millions à Aéroports de Montréal, un OSBL privé. De cette somme, 25 millions ont servi à construire la gare, a appris La Presse.

Henri-Paul Martel, vice-président ingénierie et construction d’ADM, assure que cet investissement n’est «pas du tout» risqué. «Pour nous, la navette est essentielle au développement de l’aéroport», a-t-il dit. ADM a bon espoir qu’Ottawa défrayera une partie des coûts. «Transports Canada s’est engagé à financer la construction des navettes des aéroports de Vancouver et de Toronto», a rappelé Christiane Beaulieu, vice-présidente aux affaires publiques.

M. Martel a ajouté que «l’espace réservé pour la gare n’est pas perdu». D’ici l’achèvement du lien ferroviaire, 125 voitures pourront s’y stationner. «Et à la limite, si jamais le projet de la navette ne voit pas le jour, nos plans permettent d’ajouter un autre étage au stationnement», a-t-il précisé.

L’administration du maire Gérald Tremblay ne cache pas son impatience de voir se réaliser le projet. «Ça fait des années, voire des décennies, qu’on fait des études sur la navette, a souligné le responsable du transport collectif au comité exécutif, André Lavallée. Il faut arrêter de multiplier les projets et de n’en réaliser aucun.»

M. Lavallée espère que Québec et Ottawa s’engageront à investir dans le projet d’ici la fin de l’année.

Photo by David Boily, La Presse


  1. It’s about time! Although it sounds like it may be a bit longer.

    While I was impressed with the ease with which I could take the STM bus to YUL, having to transfer at the Dorval AMT station with the airport in plain site is kind of annoying. Also, the buses to leaving Dorval station can be a bit crowded if one is traveling with luggage. In other words, bring on the trains!

  2. If you don’t have too much luggage, it’s pretty easy to take the 211 from Lionel-Groulx to Dorval. The real pain, like you say, is having to transfer to the 204, which only comes every 30 minutes. What makes it worse is that ADM runs shuttle buses to all of the airport’s parking lots, but not the train/bus station.

  3. While I’m enthusiastic and I hope the ploy works, this is not the first time we’ve attempted this type of gimmic in Montreal, and last time it didn’t work.

    You’ll note that Mirabel (remember Mirabel?) ALSO has an unused train station underneath it. The reason why it never got put into service? The track was never laid from the existing right of way (a few km away) to the station.

    Sound familiar at all?

    And, to the point of ADM’s Plan B… Apparently the underground train station structure at Mirabel is currently being used as parking.

    Plus ça change…

  4. I really hope this happens, because the city can then join the list of all European cities that have had this for ages (i.e. cheap and fast way to get to the airport).

    Public transport is really a misery in Montreal. It can only get better. It’s good to see that the people on top sometimes do good things.

    Let’s hope this project actually sees the light of day.

  5. The 211 does come by often enough (every 15 minutes even at night), but as Chris and Dan noted, transferring (and waiting) for another bus next to the airport is somewhat nonsensical.

    But there are other issues to consider here. A train shuttle would undoubtedly have other advantages. Consider the insane amount of car (including taxis and bus shuttles) traffic that goes in and out of the airport from all parts of the island. An efficient train shuttle service would alleviate traffic (and frustration for all the car-goers) on the 20, the 40, the 520 (Côte de Liesse HW), the 13, and the 720 (Ville-Marie EW), and even the 15. Not only that, but it would be faster than taking two buses to get there.

    Not everyone is aware of this, but in the 1970’s, when Mirabel Airport was built, they also built a train station in the basement which is presently used as an employee parking lot. The funds for the train link to downtown Montreal never came through and the airport remained train-less.

    Sound familiar to anyone?

  6. I’m usually too impatient to take the 204. I instead walk. It takes about the same amount of time: 15 minutes (or less, depending on your walking speed). It’s just that you’re not waiting. I must say that it’s not a super great walk.

    I also sometimes take a taxi, if I’m running late.

  7. I usually love walking, but I find that walk a misery and not very safe.

    There is also the Métropolitain bus that runs at extended morning and afternoon rush hours. If you live in the north end (I live near Jean-Talon market) or in Ville St-Laurent that is a lot faster as it stops at métros du Collège and Crémazie (just outside the FTQ building).

    Thanks for this, Christopher. I’m just back from a short working trip to Amsterdam and the Schiphol airport/railway station is a wonder. Even better than the Paris ones; you don’t have to walk outside at all.

    The train shuttle would also encourage a lot of travellers to use that means of getting to the airport, not just us notorious cheapskates.

  8. If I hear about one more study…. just do it already. This is a no brainer. Unfortunately, the people in power at every level are too interested in political posturing and well, have no brains.

  9. Obviously a train is needed for long term growth. But for the time being, why not run a constant 204 shuttle from the arrivals to the north end of the AMT Dorval terminal? Maybe with a smaller bus? once bus could provide 6 0r 7 minute service between the airport and Dorval station pretty easy.

    I got off a plane last night at 9:30pm. To the curb 204 stop by 9:40.

    I finally left Dorval AMT aboard the 211 at 10:28pm.


    Almost an hour to leave a 1km radius of the airport?

    The current system is hack.
    Make it better.
    Simple and done.
    With a frequent train shuttle to downtown that has a stop at AMT Dorval, et voila, you have LRT like service to Dorval 20 hours a day….instantly. The funds saved from running the then pointless 211 to Lionel-Groulx can be used elsewhere.


  10. I must admit I have never taken the 204 from the Dorval Bus Terminal to get to the airport, usually taking the train thru to Toronto and flying out of there.

    However I HAVE made connections at Dorval FROM the 211 to a Commuter train at CP Dorval and the reverse.

    Years ago I had to travel out to Pointe Claire, 211ed from Lionel Groulx and it was no slouch getting over the road, as traffic was not too bad.

    Commuter trains leave and arrive from Lucien l’Allier and might well get to Dorval quicker than the 211 if traffic is an issue.

    Of course, I do not know the fare structure and it may well be much cheaper to do the trip all by bus.

    ( WHY they moved the tracks WEST from the COVERED, repeat COVERED, train shed at old CPR Windsor station is beyond me. )

    T’was always a longish walk from CN Central Station, especially in the rain or snow, before the Metro, to catch a CPR Commuter to Montreal West and the Lakeshore from old Windsor Station, but, now its WORSE.

    As kids we used to stand in the Concourse of Windsor Station and marvel at the arrival of the steam locomotives pulling almost right up to the windows, their headlights forming a diminishing circle on the glass.

    Travel was an adventure when you did not own a car, even on a streetcar to a distant part of the city.

    Some days we would travel on the Tramways to CPR Jean Talon Station and return by train to Montreal West, for less than $2.

    You could imagine you were in the country as the train flashed along at 45 mph along Namur, beneath the Tramways overpass at Decarie and past Blue Bonnets.

    Not all built up, yet.

    Another option was to travel by train to CPR Jean Talon then flex in a ride on a Trolley Bus, their routes all congregating in the East end, as the Trolley Busses were serviced at St Denis Car Barns at de Fleurimont.

    YES! a rail connection to downtown from the airport is a great plan! The sooner the better.

  11. Hello?


    Anybody home?

    You know the question.

    The answer is trains.

    We’re waiting.

  12. Hello!

    This is the Government answering your call.

    Just Send money.

    Thank You!

    Good By!

  13. One of the things that has stalled the train is the logistics of where the trains would actually travel. There are two basic routes that exist so the train could go through NDG or Turcot. But if train travel is going to grow in the coming decades neither one might be a good idea. But it would cost a fortune to build a new dedicated line. And Dorval Circle is getting a rehaul, along with Turcot, and it is just hard to imagine all the infrastructure stuff happening along that corridor at the same time,(and it not being very hard to travel through), and where will the money come from?. My fear is that they will commit to a plan that will be outdated in 10 years, meaning they will have slammed some infrastructure in place that will make setting it all right in 10-15 years a nightmare.
    But it is a logistical freakshow out there, so it might be a good thing they aren’t rushing in.

  14. $224 million to re-design an antiquated transit system, and the powers at be leave out the most vital element for forward thinking airport development – the high-speed rail link.

    It’s not just that the authorities are repeating a core component of Mirabel’s downfall (lack of direct expressway access via highway and railway), but that they are specifically investing a considerable amount of money into methods of transit which are already beginning to demonstrate their complete obsolescence. The problem of right-of-way access and that the express train would have to share track space with AMT commuter trains, VIA passenger and CN/CPR freight trains is compounded by the Dorval Circle plan which aims to specifically improve automobile traffic access. The bulk of the money ought to be spent providing alternative stock yards and re-activating former railway lines, such as the Hymus Line which neatly bisects most of the West Island. With this in mind, freight and passenger routes could be re-oriented to allow the Express Train access to the existing line that runs parallel to the highway.

    However – what will power this train, diesel? This is not an electrified line, and it seems that an express train would have to run between the airport and Gare Centrale. Can the Gare handle additional traffic, and what will be the cost to re-develop it for such additional traffic? Will they use Gare Lucien L’Allier instead? A rude deposit, considering it’s position and lack of connectivity (least of all the lack of services and room to grow).

    If laying new track was a possibility, it may be advisable to run trains through the Mount Royal tunnel, switch onto the south-west line after Montpellier Station and enter the airport from the Northeast. At least this could allow for the use of under used railway and permit an expressway link which could maintain a vital link while the Dorval Circle is sent further back into the stone ages.

    However, this means more rolling stock and possibly cuts to already terrible AMT service on the Deux-Montagnes Line.

    If you are starting to feel that the City, Province and affiliated agencies have at best a very poor understanding of how traffic works, I’m afraid to say it seems that very little thought has gone into any of these plans. The Turcot Plan, the Dorval Circle, Airport rail link – all very poorly considered and clearly not based on traffic projections which take into account the current ecological and economic crises.

    I would say ‘vote x’, but the generational gap is far too large. Business and capital is in the hands of people who have a generally poor comprehension of a city’s ecological footprint, technological innovation and the residual effects of strong public transit and public environmental policies.

    And incidentally, this is the same generation that considers Mirabel a White Elephant; while I generally laud people’s ability to recognize something that didn’t work, not being able to figure out solutions leaves a lot to be desired.

  15. I worked on the Airport Frankfurt in Germany. There are countless railroad tracks underneath that Airport, and everytime I go back there they have build a new line towards another city. Why Montreal can not build at least one track? By the way Frankfurt is a much smaller city than Montreal.

  16. Has anyone looked at the idea of through-running the Deux-Montagnes Line (DM) commuter trains out of Gare Centrale to the airport on the VIA/CN Line? This would allow for new stations in Griffintown, Point St Charles, St. Henri, Lachine and Dorval as part of an expanded commuter train network…one that could be increased in frequency to one similar to a metro service. Of course, the line would probably have to be electrified from downtown to the airport, and the additional trains could be a major issue congestion-wise in this busy corridor, but this would somewhat solve any gare centrale train-capacity issue as the downtown station would become really just a regular station, with a short (<1 min) dwell time. With short running some trains to Roxboro on th DM line, frequencies on this combined line could be quite high. Kinda like an RER train in Paris. This would also answer many West Islander's complaints about lack of high quality transit service, as the now commuter line could easily have service frequencies of 15-20 minutes. Here's a link to a cool article outlining this way of thinking:

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