A Sustainable Reclamation Plan for MR-63 cars

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Latest update!

313 MR-63 métro cars have been recycled.

Did you know?

The withdrawal of MR-63 railcars is closely linked to the arrival of AZUR métro cars. Before disposing of a train set, we must ensure we have enough trains to provide service. Then, we choose which train sets to remove from service based on when they are due for their annual maintenance.

Seven finalist projects

Following the call for proposals launched in March 2016 to give a second life to the MR-63 métro cars, there are the finalist projects from among the some thirty submissions received. All submissions were evaluated according to the same criteria: image and heritage; environment and sustainability; quality of concept; guarantee of project delivery and quality of proposal; feasibility and logistics.

Projects currently underway

Over the coming months, certain conditions will have to be met by promoters in order for them to receive final approval for their project. These include land-use approval, if applicable, plans for handling and transportation, taking possession, respect for the public and collective character of the project.

As a first step, the majority of finalists signed the sales contract and are moving forward with work to complete their project.

A first batch of materials, in this case a group of 16 doors and their opening-closing mechanism, was delivered to artist Michel de Broin, who is creating a sculpture for the Quartier des spectacles. His artwork installation, entitled Seuils, will be displayed this fall.

Consult the accessibility page for more info on the external medias.

See «Rencontre avec Michel de Broin» on YouTube

Signature large-scale projects

  • MR-63 project: 8 cars integrated into a multi-disciplinary building in the Quartier de l’innovation
  • ÆDIFICA project: a dozen of cars integrated into a private and public multifunctional complex

Projects for diverse purposes

  • Collège Montmorency: a car for fire prevention training
  • FAB LAB Polytechnique Montréal: a car for a coffee and work spot
  • Jardins de Métis: a car for a display featuring its link with Montréal

Artistic projects

  • Le TAZ: a car and some bench seats for an installation
  • Michel De Broin: 16 doors for the work of art, “Seuils”

The next steps

Over the coming months, certain conditions will have to be met by the submitters in order for them to receive final approval for their project. These include land approval, if applicable, plan for handling and transportation, taking possession, respect for the public and collective character of the project

Selection process

The selection committee will start by reviewing proposals based on the evaluation criteria. The results of their analysis will be presented to STM executive officers who, in turn, will submit a recommendation to STM’s board of directors. The board will make a final determination and its decisions in this matter are final. The STM reserves the right to not select any project if none adequately meet all evaluation criteria.

Selection committee

The selection committee consists of:

  • One STM representative for each of these divisions: sustainable development, environment, architecture, major projects, métro rolling stock, marketing, arts and heritage;
  • One external member representing the design and architecture community;
  • One external member representing the arts and heritage assets community;
  • One external member representing the business community.

Evaluation criteria

We remind you that, first and foremost, Bidder bears full responsibility for all risks related to their project, thereby excluding the STM of any and all liability.

Below is a list of the criteria used to evaluate project proposals, regardless of whether said projects are temporary or permanent:

  • Image and heritage: the project must have a positive impact on the STM’s corporate image, as well as public scope and reach, and provide a collective experience for all.
  • Environment and sustainability: the project must keep any negative impact on environment and community to a minimum, show that it complies with any objectives set for the deployment zone, and include a plan for the final disposal of MR-63 cars.
  • Quality of concept: the project must be achievable (demonstrate its feasibility) and fully detailed, with objectives and target market clearly and precisely identified in project presentation.
  • Quality of proposal and guarantees for delivering on project: the document must reflect the Bidder’s clear understanding of all parameters, solid framework for the project, as well as financial and technical ability to carry out the project.
  • Feasibility and logistics: the project’s time frame and deployment must take into consideration the availability of MR-63 cars.  

Do you know the story of the MR-63 cars?


  1. At October, 2015.

Millions of people like you ride the métro each day. On your way to work, to the movies or a show, to cheer the Montréal Canadiens hockey team or simply to meet with a friend at a restaurant, no matter, our métro is a part of your daily life.

From the very beginning, MR-63 cars have been an integral part of highly successful events in Montréal, from Expo 67 to the 1976 Olympics, two major events in the city’s history that attracted millions of visitors from Montréal and around the world. And still, today, from the MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE festival in winter to the International Jazz Festival in summer, our métro is always there to get you there!

Now, our MR-63 métro cars have reached the end of their service life. Did you know that each one has travelled some 4,000,000 kilometres1? Yes, and as such, we now have to let them go. No need to worry, though. Their withdrawal from service will be gradual, as the new AZUR métro cars are delivered, and the same level of métro service will be maintained throughout for customers.

For the STM, the whole project involves:

  • Disposing of the MR-63 métro cars
  • Managing our stock of MR-63 spare parts
  • Optimizing any earnings from this project
  • Abiding by principles of sustainability and sound environmental management

One of the six priorities identified in the STM’s 2020 Strategic Plan makes sustainable development central to all corporate decisions. In its 2020 Sustainable Development Plan, the STM officially committed to continuously improve upon the environmental, social and economic performance of its business processes and activities.

Indeed, the STM is aiming to divert 75% of residual materials from final disposal and to include sustainability criteria in 90% of all purchase or disposal contracts by 2020. It is therefore essential to act upon principles of sustainability in the process of permanently eliminating MR-63 rolling stock.

Did you know that?

  • The term MR-63 refers to matériel roulant, meaning rolling stock, from 1963
  •  A train consists of one, two or three units
  • A unit, in turn, consists of three métro cars, two motor and one trailer
  • A motor car has four electric traction motors and a driving cab
  • A trailer car has no traction of its own, but it holds auxiliary equipment, like compressors, batteries and more

For the STM, it is important to properly plan for the dismantlement and reclamation of these cars by including environmental and social considerations, particularly the 3R-RD principle.

So we undertook a multi-step process to determine our best options:

  • We consulted with the STM’s internal and external stakeholders
  • We consulted with experts in sustainability issues
  • We carried out a benchmarking study with other companies and transit operators around the world to learn about best practices and services available on the market
  • Lastly, we issued a call for proposals

And from an historical conservation perspective, we also:

  • Approached a number of museums
  •  Listened to comments and suggestions from the public

3R-RD refers to the progressive order in which the management of residual materials and hazardous waste materials is preferably carried out: reduction, reuse, recycling, reclamation and, lastly, disposal. This strategy allows for the recovery of some residual materials instead of outright final disposal of them all.


The first step calls for avoiding the production of residual materials from the initial design, through manufacturing, distribution and consumption of a given product. However, as MR-63 cars were built from 1963 to 1967, this principle cannot apply to today’s disposal process.


Reusing means giving an object the opportunity to be used again, without significantly modifying its appearance or properties. A few options were considered, such as:   

  • Selling them to other public transit companies

We got in touch with transit authorities in four cities, namely Mexico City, Santiago, Marseille and Lyon, as they also operate their metro system with rubber tires, and offered to sell them our MR-63 cars.

But, because our cars are at the end of their service life, especially in terms of their technology, all responses were negative. Other properties, like their non-standard gauge and the fact they were never designed for outdoor operations, also limited their potential for reuse.

  •  Issuing a request for proposals 

This step was intended to attract the attention of business enterprises specialized in recycling that are capable of handling the disposal of MR-63 métro cars or of any other company interested in acquiring one or more cars and repurposing them as part of a special project.

  • Reusing compatible spare parts on MR-73 cars

We conducted a study that enabled us to confirm that some spare parts for MR-63 rolling stock can be reused for MR-73 maintenance and repairs.

  • Exhibiting in a museum

These cars have been a part of daily life for most Montrealers for the past 50 years. They made public transit history. For this reason, we approached Exporail, the Canadian Railway Museum in Saint-Constant, to ensure one car was added to their collection.


This process aims to transform residual materials in such a way as to reintroduce them into the production cycle of an altogether new product.

In light of the sheer number of MR-63 cars, recycling is indispensable to successfully maximize the reclamation of materials and reduce our environmental footprint.

We issued a call for tenders to obtain the services of a company that can see to the collection, transportation, dismantling, and reclamation (through recycling) of residual materials from MR-63 cars according to the 3R-RD principle.
Bidders will be evaluated by a selection committee that will base its decision on specific criteria, including sustainability, ability to deliver, previous related experience and cost.


One such process involves the recovery of energy produced by the chemical transformation of residual materials (e.g. combustion of residual materials to produce energy). Some hard-to-recycle métro car components could serve to feed cement factory furnaces.


As a last resort, any and all residuals that cannot be recycled will be sent to a landfill site for final disposal.

Working together, the STM’s engineering department and the Centre de transfert technologique en écologie industrielle (CTTÉI) identified the nature of MR-63 components and their weight, in order to draw up a complete list of all materials and ensure the final disposal of MR-63 cars was responsibly handled. Their estimates gave guidance and shape to our dismantling and reclamation process.

Impressive numbers

The combined weight of our fleet of MR-63 cars is estimated at over 7,200 metric tons! Below is a chart illustrating the main materials found in our MR-63 métro cars.

(parts made of steel, copper, stainless steel, aluminium, etc.) 

89,8 %

Other materials

Wood (underneath floorings and brake shoes):  1.1%
Composite materials (interior panels, floors, etc.):  0.8%
Other materials (electronic components, polycarbonates, lubricants, etc.):  1.9%
Rubber (tires, suspension, seals):  3.8%

10,2 %

To find out more about our options for these cars, we looked into what other transit authorities had done when they were faced with the disposal of a large quantity of métro railcars.

  • Paris hired a recycling firm to dispose of its older rolling stock, paying careful attention to how hazardous residual materials were handled and processed.
  • London reused some cars to create an artists’ village but, as with Paris, most of the cars were recycled.
  • Buenos Aires donated two cars to a rail club, converted two others into diesel-electric buses and restored yet another two for tourist lines. As for the rest of their fleet, they are still looking for an ideal solution.
  • New York, on the other hand, sank a few thousand such cars offshore after carefully removing all trace of hazardous residual materials. Contrary to the Big Apple, the STM chose not to use its métro cars to create artificial reefs in surrounding waters. Indeed, our cars were designed for indoor use, inside tunnels, sheltered from the weather, and by their very nature would quickly disintegrate after being submerged. Skeptical? Read this related article to find out more.
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