Expo Express

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Expo Express
Expo 67 logo.svg
Front of Expo Express train edit.JPG
Front view of Expo Express train at Place d'Accueil terminal in Cite du Havre.
Type Rapid Transit
Status Ceased operation
Locale Montreal, Canada
Termini Place d’Accueil
La Ronde
Stations 6
Opening April 1967
Closed October 1972
Owner Expo 67
City of Montreal (1968)
Rolling stock Hawker Siddeley H1 variant
Line length 5.7 km (3.5 mi)
Track gauge 4 ft 10 78 in (1,495 mm)
Electrification Third rail 600 V DC
Route map
Place d’Accueil
Habitat 67
Saint Lawrence River
Saint Helen's Island
Moyne Channel
Notre Dame Island
Notre Dame East
Moyne Channel
La Ronde
Maintenance center

The Expo Express was a rapid transit system consisting of five stations and a 5.7-kilometre (3.5 mi) route, running between the Cité du Havre peninsula and Saint Helen's and Notre Dame Islands in Montreal, Canada. Built for Expo 67, the 1967 World's Fair, at a cost of around CAD$18 million, the trains carried 1,000 passengers each and ran approximately every five minutes.

After Expo 67 closed in October 1967, the cars were sold to the City of Montreal for $1.8 million and operated by the Montreal Transit Commission (now the STM).[1] The train remained in service for five more years, however from 1969 onwards, on a shortened route between Saint Helen's Island and La Ronde. After the 1972 season the service was withdrawn.


Interior of Expo Express train looking toward front.
Interior of Expo Express train looking toward rear of car.

Not to be confused with the Minirail monorail which ran within the perimeters of the Expo Site, the Expo Express used standard railway technology, with two running rails and a third electrified rail identical to those of the Toronto subway.

The Expo Express was the first fully automated rapid transit system in North America, utilizing an Automatic Train Operation (ATO) system based on audio frequency track circuits furnished by the Union Switch & Signal division of Westinghouse Air Brake Company (WABCO). This fact, however, was not widely publicized during the fair, as it was felt the public would not readily board a train controlled entirely by a computer. Operators from Montreal's transit union were placed in cabs at the front and given mundane tasks such as opening and closing the doors of the train to reduce boredom.

This actually resulted in a minor incident during the fair, at La Ronde station. The conductor had pressed the button to close the doors and proceed, but his train had already sensed an oncoming express from Notre Dame Island and automatically delayed the go command to let it roll in. In the meantime, the driver realized he had forgotten his lunch. However, he could not exit though the passenger doors because his train was in a "wait" state and would not allow the doors to open. Instead, he crawled through the small cab window. By the time he had fetched his lunch, however, the oncoming train had pulled in and his train had taken off on its own. It crossed the bridge over the Le Moyne Channel, proceeded along the seaway, and came to a smooth stop at Notre Dame Island station where an Expo official was waiting. This person crawled back through the cab window and pressed the button to open the doors and let the passengers disembark.[citation needed]

The Expo Express ran from April 1967 to October 1972 (one year after Man and his World Notre Dame Island closed to the public). In 1973 the trains were mothballed, moved into storage on the Concorde bridge on Saint Helen's and Notre Dame Islands, with a few trainsets in a shed adjacent to the La Ronde amusement park. In the summer of 1979 they were moved again, out to the Port of Montréal by building a temporary track where the line to Cité du Havre used to be.

The trains used were a modified version of the Hawker Siddeley H-series used by the Toronto Transit Commission with one fewer door on each side, and streamlined ends.

In 1968 the New York City Transit Authority looked into the feasibility of modifying the cars for use on the Staten Island Railway, but this plan never came to fruition. [2] After several other abortive schemes to re-use the cars, they were moved from the Port of Montreal to a storage facility in Les Cèdres in the late 1980s, and were finally cut up for scrap in the mid-1990s.

Although the Expo Express used traditional steel-wheeled trains, Montreal's Metro system did not. Rubber-tired trains based on technology developed by the Paris Métro, were selected instead: the Canadian Vickers MR-63 (and later Bombardier Transportation's MR-73) train.

The line[edit]

Model board at Expo Express control centre at Place d' Accueil terminal showing line layout.
Control console at Expo Express control centre at Place d' Accueil terminal.

The line was double-track throughout, except for a single-track section at Cité du Havre, where people exited on one side of the train and boarded on the other.

When the terminus was cut back to Saint Helen's Island in 1969, it was single-tracked as well.

In 1969 a new station, near Man The Provider, was opened on Notre Dame Island.

In 1972 the two stations on Notre Dame Island closed, making the route direct from Saint Helen's to La Ronde with no stops in between.

The line was dismantled north of Notre Dame Island in 1974 for the construction of the Olympic basin; rolling stock was moved between Notre Dame Island and Saint Helen's Island (and some adjacent La Ronde) and stored there until 1979.

Maintenance facilities were located northwest of La Ronde station.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/13503829/Fiche%20Expo-Express_Final_WEB.pdf
  2. ^ Klauder, Louis T. (July 1968), Report to the City of New York Transportation Administration on the Feasibility of the Purchase of the Expo Express Transit Cars for use on the Staten Island Rapid Transit Railway (Consulting Engineers' Report), Philadelphia PA, retrieved 22 January 2013 

External links[edit]