Media contact information
Annie Touchette
Senior Advisor, Communications and Public Relations
Polytechnique Montréal
514 231-8133
Marilena Varano
Alstom Canada
Pauline Deschamps
Director of Major Gifts and Planned Giving
Fondation de Polytechnique
514 340-4711, poste 4162

A métro car to improve students’ mental health and well-being

Thanks to a donation from Alstom, Polytechnique Montréal students will give an MR-63 car a second life 

May 17, 2018

Montréal – Two years after responding to the Société de Transport de Montréal’s (STM) call for proposals, Polytechnique students have received support from Alstom to recycle, repurpose and incorporate a 13-tonne MR-63 métro car in the heart of the Claudette-MacKay-Lassonde and Pierre-Lassonde buildings.

The $300,000 donation will enable students to redesign the car over the coming year for its final installation at Polytechnique in the summer of 2019. In addition to repurposing a Montréal heritage piece, the project aims to promote students’ well-being and awareness of mental health issues while encouraging creativity.

Mental health and well-being

Station Polytechnique-Alstom will be showcased in the fall of 2019 when it will host a series of activities related to student well-being. It will be accessible to everyone at all times as a place to rest, read and mull over creative ideas. 

Over the past decade, mental health has become a major concern for Canadian universities. In a report published in 2012, the Québec Health and Welfare Commissioner reported that 75% of mental disorders appear before the age of 25 (the group most university students belong to) and that young men are more at risk.

“In recent years, Polytechnique Student Services and the two student associations have conducted several consultations to identify the concerns of Polytechnique students,” explain Raphaël Obonsawin and Érika Lajeunesse, students at Polytechnique and members of the Station Polytechnique committee. “School-related stress, trivialization of suffering, lack of knowledge of the services offered and lack of space to discuss subjects other than studies are issues that have clearly emerged. The Station Polytechnique-Alstom project is a response to these concerns. The car will become a friendly place where people can feel comfortable discussing and relaxing, and the programming will help raise awareness of the support services offered at Polytechnique.” 

For his part, Angelo Guercioni, Managing Director, Alstom Canada, says: "We are very pleased to partner with Polytechnique Montréal to ensure the preservation of a piece of Montreal’s public transit history as well as Alstom in Quebec. Our history in Quebec dates back to the major hydroelectric projects to the renovation of the MR-63 cars, based on MR-59 cars in Paris. We are proud of this partnership, not only because the project immortalises an iconic symbol of this city and brings us back to our beginnings, but also because the essence of the project is aligned with Alstom’s values and because it is the students who developed it.”

Isabelle Péan, President and CEO of Fondation de Polytechnique, notes: “Station Polytechnique-Alstom will have an impact that will substantially improve our students’ well-being. With its generous donation, Alstom is making a significant gesture toward the next generation of engineers, and we thank them for this.” 

And Philippe A. Tanguy, Chief Executive Officer of Polytechnique, adds: “I think it’s important to emphasize that this initiative was developed and supported by passionate students, guided by their creativity and boldness. We are delighted with Alstom’s support for this innovative and multidisciplinary project that will honour a part of engineering heritage right at the heart of Polytechnique while enhancing students’ quality of life.”

Facts and figures

  • Length: 17 metres
  • Width: 2.5 metres
  • Height: 3 metres
  • Weight: 13 tonnes
  • Capacity: up to 109 passengers at peak times
  • MR-63 métro cars were the first to be used in the Montréal subway system. 
  • With 22 windows, Station Polytechnique-Alstom will be open to the activities at Polytechnique.

Project history

  • In 1963, the Ville de Montréal awards Canadian Vickers the contract to build the cars that would speed through the tunnels of the future Montréal métro system. Alstom’s technologies are built into the cars’ design.
  • In 1966, the Montréal métro opens its doors and propels the city to metropolis status.
  • Fifty years later, the STM announces that the MR-63 cars, having reached the end of their useful life, will be decommissioned and replaced by new, more reliable cars. 
  • To support the values of a sustainable society, the STM launches a call for proposals in 2016, offering citizens the opportunity to repurpose MR-63 cars. The Polytechnique students’ proposal was one of seven finalist projects selected by the STM among the 30 or so submissions received.
  • Started by six students, the Station Polytechnique committee has grown to include 14 Polytechnique Montréal students and alumni. 

Key project stages 

The Station Polytechnique committee took possession of the métro car on May 2, transporting it on a flatbed truck through the city of Montréal to a workshop where it will be completely refitted to suit its new purpose. The design will be based on the interiors created by students in the Université de Montréal Faculty of Environmental Design who responded to the competition launched by the Station Polytechnique committee in January 2018. 

In August 2019, the 13-tonne heritage vehicle will officially make its debut at Polytechnique. A glass wall overlooking the Lorne-M.-Trottier atrium of the Lassonde buildings will have to be opened up to permanently install the car on an enormous steel support structure. 

  • April 2016: submission of the proposal
  • October 2016: proposal selected by the STM
  • June 2017: choice of the final location with the architect of the Lassonde buildings
  • Summer 2017: start of donor solicitation with the Fondation de Polytechnique
  • Fall 2017: feasibility study
  • December 2017: approval of the project by Polytechnique management and choice of the project’s purpose
  • January 2018: competition launched for students of Université de Montréal Faculty of Environmental Design
  • May 2, 2018: arrival of the car and start of the remodelling work
  • May 17, 2018: announcement of the donation by Alstom that will make the project possible
  • Summer and fall 2018: production of plans and specifications
  • Summer 2019: installation of the car at Polytechnique’s Lassonde buildings
  • Fall 2019: inauguration of Station Polytechnique-Alstom

About Alstom

As a promoter of sustainable mobility, Alstom develops and markets systems, equipment and services for the transport sector. Alstom offers a complete range of solutions (from high-speed trains to subway cars, trams and e-buses), passenger solutions, customized services (maintenance, modernization), infrastructure, signalling and digital mobility solutions. Alstom is a world leader in integrated transport systems. The company recorded sales of €7.3 billion and booked €10.0 billion of orders in the 2016/17 fiscal year. Headquartered in France, Alstom is present in over 60 countries and employs 32,800 people. 

About Fondation de Polytechnique

Created in 1973, Fondation de Polytechnique raises funds to support Polytechnique Montréal’s key innovative projects through philanthropic contributions by companies, foundations and Polytechnique Montréal alumni and friends. To this end, it works actively with Polytechnique to foster excellence in the next generation of engineers and advanced research, as well as to promote the institution on the local and international scene.

About Polytechnique Montréal

Founded in 1873, Polytechnique Montréal is one of Canada's largest engineering teaching and research institutions. It is the Québec leader for the scope of its engineering research activities. It is located on the campus of Université de Montreal, the largest French-language university campus in the Americas. With over 47,500 graduates, Polytechnique Montréal has educated 22% of the current members of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec. The institution offers more than 120 programs. Polytechnique has 260 professors and 8,300 students. It has an annual operating budget of $213 million, including a research budget of $75 million. 

Project website: 


  • Raphaël Obonsawin, Co-director, Structure team, Station Polytechnique
  • Érika Lajeunesse, committee member, Station Polytechnique
  • Angelo Guercioni, Managing Director, Alstom Canada
  • Isabelle Péan, President and CEO, Fondation de Polytechnique
  • Philippe A. Tanguy, Chief Executive Officer, Polytechnique Montréal

Press package

Media contact information
Annie Touchette
Senior Advisor, Communications and Public Relations
Polytechnique Montréal
514 231-8133
Marilena Varano
Alstom Canada
Pauline Deschamps
Director of Major Gifts and Planned Giving
Fondation de Polytechnique
514 340-4711, poste 4162

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