Look but don't board; new Azur metro trains begin daytime testing
The Azur trains are finally rolling along the tracks in the metro line, but don't count on being able to board them until sometime next year.
Years after they were supposed to be ready to accept passengers, the STM has finally received enough Azur metro trains to begin regular testing on the Orange and Blue lines.
The STM began nighttime testing more than a year ago -- on June 1, 2014 -- but only began daytime testing on the two lines on Tuesday.
The new trains will run without passengers in between the standard metro trains on both lines.
To replicate the weight of passengers, each Azur train is loaded with 100 tonnes of dead weight.
The daytime testing will continue until at least December, and if everything works flawlessly the first passengers will be able to board in late December of this year.
The only problem that might occur during the test runs is that the cars could technically stop in the middle of a tunnel, which would slow down the entire network for the time it takes to start it again.
The test trains will carry an entire crew of mechanics and technicians, but delays could happen.
“If it's a more important problem it is possible that this train will be stuck for one minute, two minutes and will have to slow down the other trains,” explained STM technical director Francois Chamberland.
The new trains will not have air conditioning. The STM never asked for it, claiming the structure of the metro system does not allow for it.
Azur's technology, however, will generate considerably less heat compared to the traditional metro trains.
The new metro cars transform their own heat into additional electricity for the network.
The new metro will also allow passengers to walk from one car to another.
Long wait; many delays
The project to replace the metro trains built in 1966 began a decade ago, when the STM first put the project up for tender.
After years of legal battles the provincial government finally awarded the $1.7 billion contract to the Bombardier-Alstom consortium in 2010.
The first Azur prototype rolled off the assembly line in November 2013, but there were some hiccups.
About 200 metres of one tunnel had to be widened to accommodate the new trains, then there were problems with suppliers of electrical components.
Bombardier-Alstom is supposed to have all 52 trains ready and fully operational by the end of 2018.
“According to the contract, at the end of 2018 we're supposed to receive the last trains,” said STM chairman Philippe Schnobb.