West Island elected officials, past and present, say they've come out of a meeting with the province's transport minister, confident that this time around, the long-awaited and much talked-about Train de l'Ouest will finally come to fruition.
Mayors and ex-Liberal MNA and MP for the West Island Clifford Lincoln met for an hour this morning with Transport Minister Robert Poeti at his Montreal office about the project which has been on the backburner for years.
Lincoln, who has since become a spokesman and advocate for the project, said they were able to at least get a commitment of $80-million for more trains during the rush hour on the existing commuter train line in the next 18 to 24 months.
Lincoln said they have more faith and optimism coming out of this morning's meeting that the Train de l'Ouest will finally happen and help ease congestion on the roads and transport more commuters from the West Island and off the western tip of the island.
"We're just as skeptical as you are about promises as you are. I used to be in politics so I know what it's like," Lincoln told reporters at a news conference at the Lucien L'Allier train station, flanked by mayors sporting bright yellow t-shirts with the words, "Train de l'Ouest" emblazoned on the chest.
"What the difference here is, is that the premier has committed himself before the election, during the election, written to us after the election. The minister told us the premier is following this dossier very closely, he has spoken to him about it. So we've got a feeling now that the message has been heard."
"What was very good to hear for the mayors of the West Island was that he made a commitment that there will be a rapid link for the citizens on his mandate, it would be put on track to completion, which for us is a pretty strong statement," said Baie d'Urfé mayor Maria Tutino.
Poeti confirmed the $80-million investment into two or three more trains for the rush hour commute. He said he's waiting on a study from the AMT-Metropolitain Transport Agency before making any concrete announcements. The first past of the study is expected by the end of the summer and the second part should come out next year.
"For sure, the train is one of the possibilities to use and improve, for sure it is. It's there. And it could be the answer but I'm going to receive the information from the AMT. I'm going to ask them to go faster to give us these studies," Poeti told reporters.
Lincoln and the West Island mayors are also calling for short-term measures including improved service and renovations to train stations, as well as long term measures such as an airport link.