The planned opening of the South Shore line of the Metropolitan Express Network (REM) between Brossard and downtown has been pushed back to the fall of 2022, Global News has learned.
In an email, Jean-Vincent Lacroix, the project’s communications director, says the ongoing pandemic and supply chain issues are largely to blame.
And the consortium overseeing the engineering and construction of the new lines tells Global News some workers have been absent due to COVID-19, posing more challenges.
“We make sure to monitor it on a daily basis and so there are sometimes pertinent people will be absent as in any job,” Marc-André Lefebvre, NouvLR communications director, told Global News.
REM light rail train network on track to roll out between Brossard, downtown Montreal next year
There have also been issues of unexpected explosions occurring inside the Mont-Royal tunnel where drilling and construction continues to build new train stations.
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Two blasts occurred last year, one by undetonated dynamite that was left behind from a century ago when the tunnel was first being built. No one was injured and Lefebvre insists all drilling is done remotely, keeping workers a safe distance from explosions, but he admits explosions can occur at any time.
“There is a reality that we are always managing the risk that it might happen everyday but our main focus is to make sure that our workers are always safe,” he said.
The union representing the workers say one of the blasts caused a work stoppage.
“The work was stopped by the Work Place Health and Safety Board inspector,” Simon Lévesque, FTQ Construction health and safety, told Global News.
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A labor shortage in the construction industry is also affecting delivery dates of the REM.
“We are expecting to make sure that this work will be terminated within the delays that were announced,” Jean Boulet, Quebec Labor Minister, said at a press conference.
The entire network, 67 kilometers long with 26 stations, is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.
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