The 11-kilometre, $1.4-billion Evergreen extension of the Millennium Line is slated to open well over a month before Christmas, according to Port Moody Mayor Mike Clay.
During a public City Council meeting on September 13, Clay provided an update to councillors on the potential opening date, progress of the project, and the readiness of the municipal government to take on the new transit line.
On the subject of the much-anticipated opening date, he said: “Reporters still here, go ahead and quote me, November the 20th, [SkyTrain will be] gliding into Port Moody.”
In contrast, the Expo Line opened on Wednesday December 11, 1985 for free weekend service, and it did not begin full revenue service until Friday, January 3, 1986 following nearly a month of testing with passengers. The Millennium Line opened on Saturday, January 5, 2002 for a preview of the extension before starting revenue service on Monday, January 7, 2002, and the Canada Line similarly had a preview opening on Monday, August 17, 2009.
Clay also noted that as of early-September, trains were running from end-to-end along the newly built section of track – including the long-delayed 2.2-kilometre-long tunnel – as part of the extensive testing required.
Various police and fire departments in the communities that the Evergreen extension will run through have been performing joint training with other agencies, such as Transit Police and Vancouver Police, to become familiar with securing a SkyTrain system and reacting to unique scenarios as they arise. There will also be facilities at Evergreen stations available to the various police forces to do their policing work.
— Graham Walker (@CstGWalker) September 20, 2016
The BC Ministry of Transportation and its private contractors were responsible for the design and construction of the extension. TransLink is expected to assume control of the Evergreen extension sometime this month, and it will have 30 days to test the system and work out any deficiencies.
At this time, station construction has reached substantial completion, and only certain elements of the station plazas require work ahead of the anticipated pre-Christmas opening.
TransLink is expected to announce its finalized opening date and planned opening festivities sometime over the next few weeks.
“TransLink is still working toward the time period set by the Province for service before Christmas,” a TransLink spokesperson told Daily Hive. “Right now we are working hard behind the scenes to get ready for day one.”
In the meantime, there will be a rerouting of the existing Expo Line and Millennium Line routes beginning on October 22 to test the new operating patterns once the Evergreen extension opens:
New routes beginning on October 22
New routes after Evergreen extension opening (potentially November 20)
On the Expo Line’s main trunk from Waterfront to Columbia stations, passengers can expect a two to one ratio for trains heading outbound; for every two trains bound for King George, there will be one train bound for the new second terminus at Production Way-University.
Lougheed Town Centre will become a new major transfer point for passengers switching between both lines. An additional third platform constructed at the station is designed to handle the extra train movements and passengers generated by the extension.
How to get around Lougheed Town Centre when the Evergreen extension opens.
Trains will be operating at a slightly lower frequency on the Expo Line, however, they will be using longer trains that full the entire platform length: six-car Mark I trains, four-car Mark II trains, and the new four-car fully articulated Mark III trains.
The Millennium Line will utilize shorter two-car Mark II trains operating at frequencies of every three minutes during peak and mid-day hours.
With the Evergreen extension, passengers will be able to take a one-train-ride from VCC-Clark Station in Vancouver to Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station in just 35 minutes on both old and new sections of track. The new 11-km-long span of track from Lougheed Town Centre Station to Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station will take 15 minutes to complete.
At 79 km in length, SkyTrain will be the world’s longest fully-automated railway system when the Evergreen extension opens. Excluding the new additional platform at Lougheed, the extension adds six stations to the SkyTrain network.
Maps of the current SkyTrain routes and the future SkyTrain routes beginning October 22.
Map of the SkyTrain routes after the opening of the Evergreen extension.