Montreal, Quebec, is known as a commuter-friendly town thanks to its safe, fast, and clean public transportation system, garnering the city its reputation as one of the best metro systems in Canada and North America.

At the heart of this system is the Société de transport de Montréal (STM), the longest and first-planned of STM’s four subway lines of which—the Orange Line—will get a new underground garage at its end.

At full capacity since 2011, the project at the Orange line aims to increase capacity from 35 to 45 trains, says Sylvain Paquet, Senior Project Director for STM. “That will allow us to support expected growth in ridership over the coming years and increase the service offer to keep pace with the extension of the Blue line,” he says.

“The Orange line is related to the extension of the Blue line via Jean-Talon station (transfer between Orange and Blue line). We can currently park 25 trains on the east side of the Orange line at garages at Henri-Bourassa and Montmorency stations, but the west branch has only 10 parking spaces at Côte-Vertu station.” The new garage will add another 10 parking spaces and balance capacity at both ends of the Orange line and support these new needs.

The commissioning of this future underground metro garage is in progress and scheduled to be completed in March 2022. Landscaping and exterior architectural work will extend for a few more months in the spring of 2022. In short, the future garage at Côte-Vertu will open for service at the end of March 2022.

7 Storeys Underground

The size and scope of the project is something to behold—the workshop is equivalent to a 10-storey building with seven of the storeys underground and the construction site is one of the largest worksites in Montreal, involving a great number of different trades and more than three hundred workers every day (day and night shift).

“The excavation and concrete work has been completed,” says Paquet. “This new major infrastructure is built 25 metres below ground level. The garage includes a 1.5 km double track tunnel 8 metres wide by 5 metres high in the shape of a horseshoe also including a pit on pilings for train maintenance. The infrastructure includes three (3) auxiliary structures (workshop, emergency exit and ventilation infrastructure). The garage includes a shunting hub with several track switches that allow for changing train trajectory according to operational, maintenance and parking needs. This new garage is connected to Côte-Vertu station (terminus).”

From a technological perspective, Paquet says STM opted for installation on independent twin-blocks, which are precast concrete structures onto which the rails, running racks, insulators and guide bars are installed. Compared with conventional installation, where the tracks are anchored directly to the structural slab, the new method of installation on blocks offers several advantages, including quicker installation, greater durability and less maintenance, all of which result in long-term savings.

Platinum Envision Award

The (STM) was awarded the Platinum Envision recognition for the Côte-Vertu garage project at the end of August 2021, the first recognition of this kind in Canada for a public transit project and the highest possible recognition for major infrastructure projects in North America, such as metro and street car systems.

The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) auditors award STM with this recognition as “an excellent example of responding to community needs by expanding and improving public transportation infrastructure.” Among the accolated the projects has received are that both underground and overhead features were designed with long-term durability and resilience at the heart of decision-making and the project converts a contaminated site for beneficial reuse.

“This achievement demonstrates that the STM has acquired over time all the experience and expertise to manage and deliver major infrastructure projects, thanks to the dedication and professionalism of our employees,” says Paquet. “The project is a major success. The commitment of the management team made it possible to obtain key benefits in sustainable development. We closely monitored these goals throughout the project delivery, in every action, decision and milestone. Sustainable development is part of the STM’s core values.”
Some aspects of the project that were instrumental in achieving this project success (Platinum Envision certification, e.g.) include:

Mobility and urban planning:

  • Conversion of a contaminated wastelot into a new public area, with a future development opportunity on the southern side of the main site
  • Architectural quality and urban integration facilitating the connectivity between sectors and improving community travel
  • Worksite impact management. The choice of materials resulted in:
  • A 26% reduction of the materials carbon footprint
  • A recycled materials threshold of 41%
  • 87% of materials meeting responsible procurement criteria
  • 65% of materials were sourced locally

Environmental footprint:

  • LED lights and heating, ventilation, air conditioning and lighting systems designed to attain 49% in energy savings compared to conventional designs
  • Implementation of bioretention systems and a green roof
  • Species selected for the various landscaping projects for being resilient, pesticide- and fertilizer-free, and conducive to biodiversity

Once completed, the future garage will enable the STM to increase its operational efficiency (up to 25%) while improving service on its busiest line, the Orange Line, and support the expected growth in ridership over the coming years notably to keep pace with the extension of the Blue line.

More specifically, the new infrastructure will meet the following four objectives:

  • Add track space for parking trains;
  • Increase passenger capacity by improving frequency of service and by adding more trains on the Orange line during peak period;
  • Handle the increase in ridership expected in coming years;
  • Ensure that the service offer increases to keep pace with the Blue line’s extension.

For more information on this project, please visit