There’s a train tunnel under the Mountain

Ok, skip this suggestion if you’re not a history buff, a trainspotter, or a 4-year-old boy. Personally I’m a bit of all three, and I was surprised to learn that a 5-km railway tunnel passes straight through Mount Royal.

By pick and shovel, with horses carrying out the rubble, it was dug out by the Canadian Northern Railway in 1913 to connect the downtown core with the company’s tracks north of the city. The tunnel is now used by the AMT Deux-Montagnes commuter train and services 30,000 passengers a day. Although it’s been refurbished to accommodate modern trains, along some bends clearance is of barely a few inches on each side. There are no fire escapes, ventilation ducts, or water sprinklers, which could spell disaster if the AMT goes ahead with its plans to replace the electric-run trains with spanking-new diesel-run bimodals.

The AMT Deux-Montagnes commuter train departs from Gare Centrale (Metro Bonaventure). Buy two Zone 1 train tickets at the automatic teller for 3,75$ each, validate one on the platform and hop on. You probably won’t get controlled, but hold onto it just in case.

You’ll be on the other side of the Mountain in about 10 minutes. Get off at Canora, Mont-Royal, or Montpellier, and wait for the train back to Gare Centrale. On weekdays during rush hour there’s one every 15-20 minutes, but on weekends trains are few and far apart. Don’t get stuck in the middle of nowhere – make sure you check the timetable before you leave.