Being the only person to get off at the most-easterly train station on the island of Montreal meant that I got a puzzled look from pretty much everybody involved in getting me there. "Point-aux-Trembles? Vous ne pouvez pas prendre le metro?" I mean, why would anyone pay $20 for a trip you could take by metro (and bus) for $3? Well, if you want to get a preview of the future AMT (the Montreal regional transit authority) "Train de l'Est" which is currently under construction, this is the best way to do it.
It is the southern end of the line from Montreal to Jonquiere and Senneterre, with cars for both destinations travelling together as far as Hervey Jct., where the train is broken into two to go on the final legs of their journey. In Montreal, the train heads south through Pointe-St-Charles, Verdun and St-Henri, where it makes a turn through the massive CN Taschereau rail yard and heads north and east towards the first stop, Ahuntsic. Service used to be via the Mont-Royal tunnel, with outbound trains being pulled by electric engines as far as the Jonction de l'Est in St-Laurent (inbound trains would merely coast downhill through the mountain). A total reconstruction of the Montreal-Deux-Montagnes commuter line in 1995 made this no longer possible as the electrical current used by the new trains was incompatible with CN's aging fleet of electric locomotives, so the diversion via Taschereau, and its additional half-hour travel time, was now necessary. It is unclear whether the hybrid locomotives which will be used by the AMT for the Train de l'Est will do double-duty for VIA once that line opens, but it appears unlikely.
From Ahuntsic, the line continues east through Montreal-nord, Montreal-est, and Riviere-des-Prairies before arriving at the unmanned, but rather-vandalized Pointe-aux-Trembles Station. Interestingly, when the Train de l'Est opens (currently scheduled for
Montreal-Nord hasn't seen service since 1968, as most users switched to the metro after its opening in 1966. A great essay on the history of electric commuter service to Montreal-Nord (and Ahuntsic) by McGill professor Glenn Cartwright can be found here.
Photos taken near the corner of 64e Avenue and Prince-Albert Street in the borough of