LA POCATIERE, Que. - The consortium developing the next generation of cars for Montreal's subway system unveiled the first of the new vehicles Monday.
Nine cars were introduced in front of dignitaries and employees at the Bombardier Transportation (TSX:BBD.B) plant in La Pocatiere in Quebec's Lower St. Lawrence.
The first prototype cars, dubbed "Azur", will hit the rails in 2014 so designers can test the vehicles on the network.
Montreal's transit commission says it expects the new fleet to last 50 years.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, who attended the launch, said the new cars will make subway travel more enjoyable.
"The metro is vital to Montreal's development,'' Coderre said in a statement. ''The new cars will soon be an added asset for the city, even as we await the system's extension eastward.''
Both Coderre and Premier Pauline Marois took the new car for a spin on Bombardier's test track.
By 2018, 468 new-generation vehicles should be in use in the underground transit system.
They are being built for $1.9 billion by a consortium composed of Bombardier Transportation and Alstom Transport. More than 150 Canadian suppliers are part of the project.
The new nine-car trains will replace the current aging fleet, including some cars that have been in service since 1966.
The capacity of the new trains is eight per cent higher than their predecessors, and transit users will be able to walk from one end of the train to the other. The doors are also larger and the windows give a panoramic effect, Bombardier Transport said.
About 900,000 people use the Montreal subway on a daily basis.