Caisse is considering other transportation projects once REM launches, CEO says

“Are there discussions about other such projects, both here and internationally? The answer is yes.”


Quebec’s public pension administrator is interested in bidding on other transportation projects here and elsewhere once Montreal’s Réseau express métropolitain is up and running, its chief executive said Wednesday.

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Although the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec’s number one infrastructure priority is to ensure the light rail network performs as advertised, the asset manager has already begun discussions with unnamed parties about possible investments of a similar nature, the report said. Chief Executive Charles Emond. . He only specified that the projects are both in Canada and abroad.

Crews involved in the construction of the REM recently finished electrifying the 16-kilometer branch of the network between downtown Montreal and Brossard. Testing on the Samuel-De Champlain bridge, a major milestone in the project, is already underway, and project developer CDPQ Infra, the infrastructure unit of Caisse, still expects the section to open this fall.

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“I haven’t put an X” on the REM model export, Emond told reporters during a news conference in Montreal to discuss Caisse’s first-half results.

“Are there discussions about other projects of this type, both here and internationally? The answer is yes. These are preliminary talks, but it is clear that the Caisse is seen as one of the few consolidators that can manage the entirety of such a project. There are not many.

A smooth entry into service for REM will be crucial to cementing Caisse’s credentials on the international stage.

“We have to walk before we run,” Emond said. The opening of REM’s South Shore branch “is an important step that will allow us to demonstrate that we can do this type of project in other parts of the world. For me, having all the resources focused on making this project a success in the next two or three years is the priority.”

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Launched in 2016 to much fanfare, the 67-kilometre REM has suffered from a number of delays and cost overruns. It has also provoked widespread criticism locally for the construction of solid concrete pylons on its upper part.

Problems with the Mount Royal tunnel, coupled with labor shortages and material supply issues, have postponed the opening of most stations on the light rail network until the end of 2024, CDPQ Infra said in June. . CDPQ Infra also acknowledged that the delay will lead to higher costs and that the most recent estimate of $6.9 billion will not be met.

Asked about finances, Emond said Wednesday that a cost update on the REM would likely have to wait until early 2023. About 74 percent of the network has been completed, he said.

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Several types of projects could be of interest to the Caisse in its pursuit of new infrastructure investments, Emond stressed.

“These are not necessarily cut-and-paste projects,” he said. “There is a wide range of projects, of sustainable mobility projects that are environmentally responsible. It can range from REM to other types of transportation. We may be interested in other types of projects. There are maybe four or five projects that we will be in preliminary talks for, but these talks may take a while. People often come to see us.”

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