One of the new, sleek Azur metro cars was showcased Monday morning at a news conference in advance of their debut, slated for the beginning of next year.

Quebec Transport Minister Robert Poeti, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and STM President Philippe Schnobb spoke at the unveiling of the next generation metro car, which will accommodate 1,068 passengers compared to the current model’s 990.

Poeti says more efficient metros will take some of the pressure off of Montreal’s roads.

“It's easy to use and great to use to help to relax the highway around Montreal,” he said.

The new Azur cars also weigh 239 tonnes, 13 tonnes more than their predecessors.

They also have a number of redundancies built in such as duplicate motors so that if one breaks down, the train will keep running.

That means the trains might require more electricity than the old cars, according to Schnobb, who noted that it will only be possible to know the electricity consumption of the new trains once the cars get rolling.

More cars will arrive within the next few weeks and once the first train is assembled, it'll be put through its paces.

With eight months of rigorous testing still ahead, riders won't be on these trains until the end of the year at the earliest, but more likely next year.

The Bombardier and Alstom consortium must deliver 468 of the new Azur cars by the end of 2018 to fulfill its $1.2-billion contract.

Schobb also downplayed the expansion of 200 metres of tunnel which was required to accommodate the train. The $33-million tunnel renovation was required on only a fraction of the 71-kilometre metro tunnel system, he noted.

Schobb said that metro brass is still mulling over what can be done to recycle the city's current metro cars, which were built in 1966.

-- with a file from The Canadian Press