Please find below second round of questions/responses between AMT & WTAG in Bold. We thank AMT for taking the time in responding to our questions and we look forward in working with them to ensure that Residences along the Westmount Corridor Health and Safety is being considered.
1) WTAG: We are noticing less bimodal locomotives are on the Westmount Corridor which are significantly quieter than the older locomotives. Could you please elaborate why?
AMT: Dual-mode locomotives are quieter than diesel locomotives for the following reasons: firstly, because dual-mode locomotive engines are quieter and produce fewer vibrations (low frequency) and also because the engine compartments are isolated from one another.
WTAG (2): Thank you for your answer, I believe our question was not clear. We are noticing less bimodal locomotives and more of the older EMD locomotives on the Westmount Corridor. Could you please elaborate why?
AMT (2): The number of dual-mode locomotives running on the AMT network has not changed—there are no fewer than before. However, due to the limited number of such locomotives, we cannot guarantee that they will be used on all trains. Also, equipment assignments are planned based on the ridership for each departure. Lastly, we sometimes need to take these locomotives out of service to carry out regulatory inspections.
2) WTAG: Why are the bimodal locomotives not being used for the evening trains (8 pm to 11 pm)?
AMT: During off-peak periods (including the period between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.), shorter trains run with a reduced number of cars. As such, the type of locomotive used depends on the power required to pull the train. When the train is short, we select a less powerful locomotive (F-59), and when the train is longer (during peak hours) we use dual-mode locomotives, which are more powerful than the others. So using diesel locomotives for the evening trains is a more efficient choice.
2.a) Could you please elaborate what kind of efficiency are you referring to concerning using the bimodal vs. longer trains?
2.b) Occasionally we notice the bimodal locomotives in the evening and weekends, how can we make this a permanent fixture especially when the longer trains are not being used in the evening and weekend?
2.c) As confirmed in Question 1, the Bimodals are much quieter, why the residence along the corridor are not benefiting from this technology during the evenings and weekends as there was a significant investment on procuring these quieter locomotives?
AMT (2): “Efficiency” refers to how powerful a locomotive is. Dual-mode locomotives are more powerful than other types, so we need to assign them to the longest trains. The trains that run later in the evening have fewer cars and consequently do not require dual-mode locomotives.
We must also optimize our asset utilization, which means not using more power than is actually needed. In other words, the choice of locomotives is based on how we operate them to maximize asset utilization.
3) WTAG: In the evening, could the third track (Southern Track) be used? Where I live the track is fully operational in the morning on both directions.
AMT: Indeed, this operation could be possible. We will take the necessary steps in that direction with CP and get back to you.
3.a) This simple solution would be well appreciated. As well could you please see if it would be feasible for the weekends?
3.b) Could you please provide us a date when you will have a response from CP and what would be then next steps to implement this solution?
AMT(2): The third track in Westmount is very short. As mentioned previously, we will use this track whenever possible, as long as this doesn’t affect operations. Our Operations group will get in touch with our counterparts at CP to ensure that this solution is put in place in the coming weeks. We will follow up with CP in this regard.
4) WTAG: With the 8 pm and 10 pm St. Jerome trains, there are zero people on the train heading downtown, why is the train going 60 mph? What is the rush when there is significantly disturbance to the population living along the corridor?
AMT: As mentioned during the meeting held on January 16, 2014, we are examining the possibilities of carrying out a noise study to evaluate whether a speed reduction in this area would have a significant impact on noise nuisances. We must also review the noise studies already performed to analyze the situation as a whole.
4.a) Could you please provide us an Estimated Completion Date (ECD) when this Noise vs. Speed Study will be completed and when the general public will receive the results with next actions.
4.b) Concerning the current noise studies, who conducted these studies and are they accessible to the general public (if so, could we please provide us the copies)?
AMT(2): After discussing the matter internally, it would appear premature at this point to carry out a noise study while work related to railway infrastructure improvements on the subdivision is still going on. Instead, we expect to do a noise study once this work has been completed (in 2015, as currently planned).
5) WTAG: The trains mentioned above, when going outbound, have significantly low ridership. For instance May 19th at 11 pm, there was only one person in the train. What is AMT’s position about having trains running empty while reducing the quality of life of residence along the corridor?
AMT: Additional service on the Saint-Jérôme line has been in effect since August 5, 2013. These extra departures are the result of requests from customers who wanted the possibility of returning from downtown later. It’s one of the reasons for which commuter train users use the train. Because they have the flexibility and the possibility of returning during evenings and off-peak periods, they take the train in the morning. Without this possibility, these people might not use our services.
WTAG (2): While we understand that the AMT wants to provide options to their clientele, after almost a year those trains still have considerably low ridership, not to say none for some of the trains. What is the policy of the AMT concerning the ratio of users using a service versus the nuisance it creates on the population adjacent?
AMT (2): We are monitoring the situation closely. But it’s still too early to make a decision on whether we should maintain or reduce evening service on the Saint-Jérôme line. What’s more, since various municipalities contribute financially to commuter operations, their elected representatives will be involved in the decision-making process.
6) WTAG: During the last meeting with the AMT, Provincial & Federal Representatives, City of Westmount Councillors, and WTAG on January 2014, AMT mentioned in their minutes they are willing to look to conduct a study in reducing the speed in correlation to the noise pollution. Can we please have a status of this study?
AMT: As mentioned in answer 4 and during the meeting held on January 16, 2014, we are examining the possibilities of carrying out a noise study to evaluate whether a speed reduction in this area would have a significant impact on noise nuisances. We must also review the noise studies already performed to analyze the situation as a whole.
WTAG (2): Please refer to response from Question 4.
AMT (2): Same answer as for question 4.
7) WTAG: If additional trains are going to be added, especially in the evenings, early mornings and weekends, will the AMT host public sessions as they did with the gantry work?
AMT: Yes, where applicable, residents adjacent to railway tracks will be notified.
WTAG (2): We appreciate public sessions on future projects, not just implementation phase, to ensure the public is well informed and to work together to insure reduction of the impact.
AMT (2): Yes, that is part of the AMT culture. The social acceptability of projects is one of our communication goals.
8) WTAG: What studies are being conducted prior adding those trains in regards of the impact of the quality of life of the corridor residents?
AMT: When we add service on a commuter train line, we develop a communications plan, a portion of which is dedicated to communications with residents living near railroad tracks. During all future projects in the Westmount subdivision, we will integrate a communications component with residents living near tracks as well as Westmount citizens.
WTAG (2): Agree that a Communication Plan is required when added new traffic and citizens would appreciate it. The concerns of residents are that the AMT is not studying the impact of these currently added trains and other future traffic, where no mitigation strategies are being considered.
8.a) What studies have been conducted with the added trains in August 2013?
8.b) What are the future studies such as the Train de l’Ouest and the eventual additional weekend trains from the St. Jerome line which might be in the future rerouted from de la Concorde to downtown through the Westmount corridor?
AMT (2): Whenever we consider adding departures on a commuter train line, we look at all aspects to determine whether or not this is feasible. We discuss infrastructure requirements with CP, and engineering specialists are asked to do assessments. We consult partners and elected officials to identify their requirements and, of course, we also consult our clientele. In addition, ridership forecasts are produced and various other requirements assessed with a view to increasing commuter train use as well as benefits to the organization and to customers. No specific studies are done in terms of assessing the impact of service additions on residents living near railway tracks unless infrastructure work is required at such trackside locations. In such a case, we meet with municipal leaders (including leaders from the City of Westmount) to inform them about our plans, about the impacts on residents living near the tracks, and about any mitigation measures. This is an approach we have been consistently following since 2011.