MONTREAL has been building a three-station extension of its Orange metro line since spring 2002. Running from Henri Bourassa station to Laval, the extension may not see revenue service even after completion in 2006 as the metro’s existing control centre has insufficient capacity.

Officials at the Société de Transport de Montréal say the centre is obsolete and cannot be expanded because components are no longer manufactured. STM wants to purchase Réno-Système, part of a C$311m project that would modernise the metro’s communications, signalling and dispatching systems in addition to other infrastructure. The money would have to be appropriated by the province of Québec, but so far none has been forthcoming. City officials have taken a hands-off attitude, saying the responsibility belongs with the province. If STM cannot adapt or expand the control centre, the extension will remain idle.

Meanwhile, the price tag of the 5·1 km Laval line has risen to nearly C$650m, more than three-and-a-half times the original estimate of C$179m. When construction began, the budget was C$345m. Since then, the project has been plagued by numerous cost overruns, leading to the newest estimate that was released in December.