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Barcelona’s Line 9 – Inspiring Montreal’s Pink Line (cat-bus.com)
85 points by luu 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 70 comments

I live in relatively small city with a pretty extensive "pre-metro" network. Our trams ride part underground, part on seperate lines above ground and part on tracks embedded in the road. Visiting cities like Barcelona, Paris or London always annoys me because of how awesome the Metro system is. Trains are usually on time, frequent and very fast.

I used to live in Tokyo and Singapore before moving to a crumbling city which aspires to developing world levels of corruption, blight, and bureaucratic ineptitude called “San Francisco”. Completely agree with how amazing well run transportation systems are. Also amazes me how consistently SF can fail miserably at even the most basic transportation projects. (SFO is a notable exception. No idea how that happened but we are so lucky to have it)

I moved from Singapore to San Francisco in 2012. Same shock. And yet, tons of interesting things happen in San Francisco, which is why I guess I'm still here.

I think we met at a few events towards the end of my time in Singapore. Definitely have a decent number of mutual friends.

It's quite a cool line. It's the only metro connection to Barcelona Airport, although if you're going to the center, it's a bit of a detour, as there are more direct routes.

Since the line is completely automated, you can sit at the front or back and get an unobstructed view of the tracks/tunnel.

If you're into trains/trams (like a certain founder of Pied Piper), it's worth checking out.

FWIW Line 9 construction was started in 2009 and is currently expected to finish in 2023. Most of it is open already though. It's a very cool construction technique but it's not fast.

Most of it but not most useful, unfortunately. Middle piece is missing - the one you actually need to connect entire city. Until that is in place - you still need transfers in city center.

The author is not right about the final cost of the Line 9 in Barcelona. It is a financial disaster x5 times more expensive than projected, twice expensive the high speed connection between Madrid and Barcelona! http://www.libremercado.com/2015-06-12/escandalo-la-linea-9-...

That Libre Mercado story is from 2015, when the line was still incomplete. It says "the final costs may reach $16.6B", but doesn't mention how much has already been spent or how realistic that upper-bound estimate was.

The OP article is from 2017, and likely has more up-to-date numbers (they claim a final construction cost of $6.9B). It is true that there were major cost overruns with Barcelona's Line 9, but not to the degree the Libre Mercado article implies.

More generally, readers using the Libre Mercado article as a source should be aware that Spanish media is extremely polarized on the question of Catalan independence, far more so even than current US media polarization. The Libre Mercado article is a product of that environment and reads as a hit piece on the pro-independence Catalan leadership.

On a personal note, I'm back in the US now but I used to live on a Barcelona L9 stop and the line is really nice. Fast, quiet, frequent service, ergonomic station design—OP is right, more cities should be copying it.

Some notes: - Libremercado quotes an openly pro-indepence as the main source: https://www.elcritic.cat/

- there is only 24 out 39 stations in nov-2019. The projections of my source are for the full line, when L9 north and south should connect.

- they ran out of money and finally they found an investor with another €750M. https://www.lavanguardia.com/local/barcelona/20180823/451412...


May be it’s a great engineering achievement, but please don’t take it as an example of financial execution.

From the article:

> Another issue of the Barcelona Line 9, is actually cost.

> The Initial estimates for the Barcelona Line 9 pegged the cost at around 2 billion Euros (3 billion CAD), but actual construction cost turned out to be 6.927 billion Euros (10.3 billion CAD). Per kilometre, that’s 145 million Euros (216 million CAD).

Where is that money? Was it lost to corruption, mismanagement or incompetence?

Time. Time multiplies costs. Time is the destroyer of worlds. Mismanagement and corruption can burn time, but in general I think much bigger factors are regulation, which requires coordination among distant, unmotivated entities, difficult even with good project management; and 2) inevitable bureaucratic and democratic squabbles that continually impose new hurdles and regularly move the goal posts.

Also consider inflation. If a project is 5 or 10 years late, simple inflation can blow up reported budgets by large fractions. When people report that California High Speed Rail will end up costing $100 billion, like 30-40% of that is simply counting inflation-adjusted costs at the time of expenditure for the extended timelines. But most people think that's $100 billion in today's dollars.

My rule as a voter is that once a project is approved, I'll vote against or oppose any modification to the project, even if I didn't want the project or would really like the modification. I realize there are often rational reasons for modifications, but in public works the risk of burning too much time is simply too high. No project will be perfect; just get it done, already. If it made sense in year 1 when approved, it should make as much sense in year 20, otherwise it should never have begun.

Probably all of them. We tend to think corruption first because the guy that was highest authority in the region for decades (and the capo of independentists mafia) is charged with accusations of a massive and systemic institutional corruption, that extracted 3% of every public contract.

The guy has been found to hold foreign accounts with astronomical amounts. That's not even controversial, he's more or less confessed, but he's not jailed yet after years of investigation and mountains of evidence.

Still that's not 3%, but multiple 100%'s.

It Montreal, it will cost more... the corruption is more than 3% either...

It is worth noting that BART chose to do something similar for its extension into San Jose, and now the deadline has slipped from 2026 to as late as 2030.

That Line 9 is pretty radical. If it works, it'll be cool. Might be best to wait a bit and see if it works.

That's true, but honestly, given the glacial pace of transit infrastructure development in Canada, it probably will be done by the time this project gets approved.

(I'm a Torontonian.)

Yep. Was waiting for Toronto to chime in on this one. If only... if only...

I'm sure the Ontario line will be a great success... /s

> One interesting thing to notice is that there isn’t much space for walkways inside the tunnels. In the image above, there’s no place to walk between the center wall and the train.

I wonder if air resistance becomes a problem with such small tunnels.

Barcelona L2 and L3 available as addons for OpenBVE simulator.[0]

[0] https://en.bvebarcelona.cat

It says its the longest metro service in Europe... I assume they are not including the Elizabeth Line in London that will be 117km in total.

It says it's the longest "metro line" once it finishes construction. The Elizabeth line isn't a metro line, and it's underground tunnel is only 21km.

Longest automated metro line. Also the Elizabeth Line is not really a metro but a high frequency regional rail line.

This might be off topic, but I highly encourage anyone to visit Montreal - ideally in summer, but even in winter. It's the most vibrant city in Canada, and the 2nd best city in North America (behind NYC).

If you want to discover precisely what the Bay Area is missing when people talk about "culture" - Montreal has it.

Note: I'm a 30+ year Bay Area native.

> the 2nd best city in North America (behind NYC).

I'm curious what set of criteria could possibly take into account all the cities of North America and lead to such a conclusion. Montreal and NYC are not even remotely similar.

Disagree. Montreal is as if Paris and Brooklyn had a baby.

I no nowhere else on the North American continent that has as much nightlife (except Miami), as many restaurants (except NYC), as many universities (???) and young people (???) and just "stuff to do"

The city has a very lived-in feeling and great architecture. Completely the opposite of California.

I've wanted to visit Montreal my whole life but this comparison makes me want to avoid it!

It's a great city for tourists in summer.

But to live in Montreal is another ball game. Shops close at 9. On weekends by 5. Never ending construction. Old noisy apartments. Crazy drivers. Badly marked road signs.

The only good thing I have experienced so far is the metro system & the underground city.

I quite enjoyed it when I was there and I intend to visit again, but the comments above about it having the greatest nightlife of anywhere except Miami struck me as slightly mad. Maybe there's some secret stuff that I have not discovered yet...

You haven't missed anything. St Catherine's street is all the nightlife you get in Montreal. As a resident of Montreal in my opinion, a tourist will find the city good for a week or so partly because of its unique look n feel European style. After that the reality of Montreal's worn down infrastructure kicks in. I would say Montréal is just riding on its old glory days before Bill 101.

My wife is a Montreal native and we go there once a year to visit her mother. I love it there but it has it's downside like every other place. The roads are horrible and the traffic to get on and off the island is insane. Hopefully the new bridge will help. I think having a French speaking partner along with you makes the experience much better.

Also good luck getting customer service in English. Its worse if you are not white.

I am not sure you can call it 'culture', but I find Québec is culturally friendly to "white French speakers"

When’s the last time you’ve been? I’ve found everyone to be extremely friendly, even in the east (French) side of the island.

All you need to do is learn “I’m sorry, I don’t speak French - but I’m learning!”

Im a temp. resident of Montreal but contemplating on moving out of Quebec soon. As a non white minority, I don't feel welcome in Quebec at all.

There are more, but here is the latest:


I hardly think this problem, while absolutely abhorrent, is unique to Montreal.

You will have to be a resident in Montreal to experience it. Tourist spots don't count.

I usually stay in Verdun or Hochelaga... I'm not a stranger to the city.

That really depends on the neighbourhood.

Some typically french lower class neighbourhoods have xenophobic francophones, but in the last 15 years they have moved off the main island or in the far east boroughs (Riviere des Prairies, etc.).

If you're on the actual island of Montreal, it's unlikely you'll face any problems for not speaking French. I've known dozens of people immigrate here speaking only one language and adapt fine.

Why the downvotes, this is exactly how it is, we have to talk about it openly, expose it and try to change it!

Or learn a little French, which is extremely not at all hard.

I spent a few days there and by the end of my time was conducting the entirety of my simple shop purchases in French, despite not having studied it before.

That's a very tall claim in regards to learning a language especially French.

You just need to learn some basics. "I would like" "I feel like" "Where is" "Hello, goodbye, Good day"


Absolutely. They just won't be able to demand service in English.

Very funny. Care to be more constructive a bit?

I don't get the reference, would you explain?

Quebec is a French speaking (in majority) Canadian province. It has bill 101 which makes French mandatory for a lot of stuff and, notably, makes it hard to get educated in english (until university where it’s pretty much as you wish).

Those are the facts. Now for my admittedly biased French Canadian opinion: it makes a lot of anglophone Quebec resident very sour because they’re very unwilling to learn the language of the majority of people living all around them. Of course this is a gross generalization but this gives you an idea of the issue. It is very complex and discussing it in HN comments is almost hopeless.

You might as well say that quebecoi don't want to learn the language of the rest of the country.

And it's gotten worse under the CAQ recently. A French PhD holder was denied immigration status because a chapter of her thesis was the language of international study, English, so she didn't complete a course "entirely in french".

Denying government services to a chunk of the population based on language is bizarre, especially when such extreme measures are asked for out of others to accommodate French outside of Quebec.

>You might as well say that quebecoi [sic] don't want to learn the language of the rest of the country.

"Between 2006 and 2011, the number of persons who reported that they were able to conduct a conversation in both of Canada's official languages increased by 350,000 to 5.8 million. The English‑French bilingualism rate within the overall population went from 17.4% to 17.5%."

"The growth of English-French bilingualism in Canada was mainly due to the increased number of Quebecers reporting that they were able to conduct a conversation in French and English. Quebec accounted for 90% of the net increase in the number of bilingual persons between 2006 and 2011. In fact, 71% of the net increase in English-French bilingualism in Canada is attributable to the population with French as a mother tongue in Quebec, in particular to the population aged 15 to 49."

"In Quebec, the English-French bilingualism rate increased from 40.6% in 2006 to 42.6% in 2011. In the other provinces, bilingualism declined slightly. The largest decreases were recorded in Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia, where in each case, the bilingualism rate decreased by half a percentage point."

- https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/as-sa/98...

    You might as well say that quebecoi don't want to
    learn the language of the rest of the country.
You are conveniently proposing a revisionist view of history.

The word "Canada" has had multiple meanings which have been thoroughly perverted. Technically, Canada is not a country per se, rather it is a federation. Canada referred to the nation of what were later called "French Canadians" long before English settlers came. This [1] map from 1579 uses the word Canada almost 200 years before the English conquest. The process of nation building was underway a _long_ time before any English settlers joined. The English appropriated the name (and the flag, and the national anthem) for themselves and promptly outlawed giving or receiving education in French in _all provinces except Quebec_. Some are still fighting against it _to this day_. These facts would not be disputed by any party at he national assembly because... they are facts.

So did the English not want to learn the language of the rest of the country, even when they were vastly outnumbered? No, they did not (and still don't). Yet for example, they generously split their debt between all of the inhabitants of the federation, at a time when the English were vastly outnumbered yet millions of dollars in debt, and the French were much more numerous yet had budget surpluses!

The Quebecois (Canadiens) have absolutely no lesson whatsoever to receive from anybody. The English minority in the province receives many times more funding than it would pro rata. It is cited by the UN as the world's most well treated minority. You, like a lot of other English Canadians, are merely expressing your disdain for Canadiens. The history of this federation is clear, if only more people would learn about it.

[1]: https://www.loc.gov/item/2017585794/

> So did the English not want to learn the language of the rest of the country

Conquerors always imposes their language and culture to their colonies. British never learned Hindi,<insert lang> of British colony.

Likewise when the French settled, they imposed French rather than learning the many languages of the First Nations people.

I rest my case.

Of course I think the whole graduate student being rejected residency for an English thesis chapter is complete nonsense. In the end only about 37% of Quebec voted for the CAQ and I’m not one of them!! I also have no control about what’s asked of people in other provinces; however in practice except at the federal service level nothing extreme is being asked in other province. Nobody is being denied services in Quebec. Define « denied ».

Please, they are talking in parliament about denying service:


Here is "complete nonsense" story about Emilie Dubois


By complete nonsense I mean that I agree with you that it's stupid ;).

This will end soon, because the new generation is growing with the internet learning English from the web and tv and no amount of suppression laws will stop them...

You won't believe how many people from the older generations never went on vacation outside Quebec, because they don't speak English and are ashamed... Even the "real" French from France are mocking them when they get the chance...

It is actually a sad story...

The sad story is people like you perpetuating 30 year old stereotypes about Quebec and sticking to them even after being proven wrong multiple times. Maybe you should practice what you preach and visit the province once in a while.

How do you know how much time I have spent in Quebec and why I am so passionate about it, mon ami? I really really wish those were from 30 years ago, this is what the current government is doing right now:

"Quebec kerfuffle over bilingual greeting Bonjour- Hi!"


The world is watching and condemning:

"Toronto council passes motion to condemn Quebec’s secularism bill"


"Redditors Have Made Their Own Hilarious Quebec Values Test & It's All About Poutine"


Those are from the past few weeks only, not from 30 years ago and we have to expose and share the stupidity to push the government to backtrack as much as possible.

That's why there is a huge brain drain out of the province, resulting in Quebec being one of the poorest provinces in Canada with a lot of unemployment (and high taxes) spinning a vicious cycle...

Just check this one example, to see the sheer stupidity of the language police:


>resulting in Quebec being one of the poorest provinces in Canada with a lot of unemployment

Quebec has the 2nd lowest unemployment rate (5.0%) in the country. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=141002...

I guess you've edited your comment. But FYI:

> Quebec presents $4-billion surplus for 2019-20 amid booming economy


This, even if population growth is less than the other provinces. Am all for debate, but you should update your held view.

As pointed out your statement about unemployement is incorrect. Brain drain is a huge problem for all of Canada; do you have any statistics showing how it is affecting Quebec more?

Forget the unemployment, there is a much bigger issues at stake with racists governments blaming the immigrants for their failed referendums and resulting in mass business exodus...

This kind of stuff pretty much diminished Montreal and gave the rise of Toronto as Canada business capital...

I'm in Montreal, we're doing fine. Sure Toronto is objectively doing better economically, but sometimes raw economic output should not be the only preoccupation of government (hey, I can make rent in a nice four room apartment as a graduate student!!). I don't like that when people point out that you're wrong and ask you for numbers, you just scream the typical "but, but Quebec is racist!!!!". That's unproductive at best.

Quebec is not racist, the regular people in Montreal are great and they acknowledge the fact how repressive the bill 101 is, actually, it is worst for the regular Quebecois, preventing their kids to learn English from young age and handicapping their future...

The separatists’ leaders are racist, but soon they will go away in oblivion, because the young generation knows better thanks to TV and Internet and are open to the world...

The whole world is uniting; EU is a good example (even with UK getting away, which looks more and more unlikely)... There is no room for chauvinism in this century in my book. Montreal is one of the best cities in the world, largely because of the immigrants settled there, even tough the nationalist governments try to punish them any chance they get...

Ever try to register a company in Quebec? Let me give you a clue, it is possible, but only in French :-)

Montreal city web site, it does have an English section, but the majority of the documents are in French only...

Bill 101 doesn't prevent anglos from getting educated in English -- it prevents _French Canadians_ (and immigrants) from getting educated in English.

This is included in what you write, but it should be noted for emphasis that Bill 101 prevents Anglophone immigrants from receiving (public) education in English. That is, a family that moves from Ontario to Québec can receive English-language education for their children, but not one that moves from the UK to Québec (even after naturalization as citizens).

To the extent legally permissible (Québec has a special exemption from a portion of the constitution's minority-language education section), the province takes a model of education where English-education should only be provided to the existing minority, and immigration must bolster the Francophone majority.

It prevents everyone from getting public school English education in the province unless one parent also went to English high school in Quebec and has a special letter to prove it.

All immigrants are prevented, including those from other provinces, all French Canadians as well (unless they have said letter).

As far as I remember from speaking with coworkers from Quebec, there was a loophole as sending your first born child to a private English school ($10k) fro one year and then transferring it to public English school and after that all siblings can go there as well, but I think this is closed now...

At the same time the majority of the separatists leaders children go private English schools...

> It prevents everyone from getting public school English education in the province unless one parent also went to English high school in Quebec and has a special letter to prove it.

Only one parent, and they only need the right to have gone to English school, in Canada. Yes this may be made more difficult in practice due to some bureaucratic requirement.

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