Feds should fund Montreal train project, says Quebec pension fund manager

The Caisse de depot is promoting the electric train proposal as a model for funding infrastructure projects

MONTREAL — The federal and Quebec governments are under pressure to quickly commit funding for Montreal’s new $5.9-billion electric train project, which the Caisse de depot is promoting as a model for funding infrastructure projects.

Quebec’s pension fund manager has created an infrastructure subsidiary to oversee the construction and operation of the 67-kilometre network, which is to be ready for service by the end of 2020.

The Caisse is also contributing $3.1 billion and the city of Montreal is committing $100 million for the project. Ottawa and the province are being asked to split the remaining $2.7-billion estimated cost.

The project’s price increased by $400 million with Friday’s announcement of three new underground stations that will shorten travel times to the downtown core and relieve congestion on one of the city’s most congested subway lines.

The Caisse de depot’s president and CEO, Michael Sabia, says the network of electric trains is exactly the type of project that Ottawa should want to support as it spends more on infrastructure and aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Sabia says he expects the two levels of government will announce their financial support within the next four months. Federal officials weren’t immediately available for comment.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested last spring that his government is keenly interested in the project, which fits a commitment to support eco-friendly projects.

In his fall economic update, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said that Ottawa will add $81 billion in spending over 11 years, raising total federal infrastructure spending to $187 billion through the 2027-2028 financial year.

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