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Transportation, Business, Urbanized, Development, News

With up to 293 new cars coming, SkyTrain will need a lot more maintenance space

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Kenneth Chan Mar 20, 2018 7:51 pm 3,635

TransLink is making a huge expansion to its fleet of SkyTrain cars to meet expected ridership growth, and as a result this means the public transit authority needs to find a lot more train parking and maintenance space when the trains are not speeding down the tracks to shuttle passengers between stations.

An RFP recently released by TransLink states it is looking for a private firm to identify potential solutions and sites that can be used for new and expanded operations and maintenance yard space.

Currently, the cars being used on the Expo and Millennium lines are mainly served by the primary operations and maintenance centre (OMC), which is the Edmonds OMC near Edmonds Station in Burnaby, where the system’s control centre is also located.

SkyTrain OMC

Inside the maintenance facility of the Edmonds OMC. (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)

The selected contractor will be required to find sites that meet the functional and operational requirements for the expanded fleet by 2027 for the medium term, which is the end of the Mayors’ Council’s 10-year plan, and 2045 for the longer term.

TransLink told Daily Hive the storage abilities at the Edmonds OMC have reached capacity, and there is now a need to modify the facility’s existing bays and build new bays to maintain the expanded fleet.

Edmonds OMC

Aerial view of Edmonds OMC in Burnaby. (Google Maps)

SkyTrain Edmonds OMC

Exterior of Edmonds OMC in Burnaby. (Google Maps Streetview)

SkyTrain OMC

Inside the maintenance facility of the Edmonds OMC. (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)

Not only will the contractor explore the possible options of expanding the existing Edmonds OMC, it will scout possible sites elsewhere in Burnaby and even other municipalities – Vancouver, Surrey, New Westminster, Port Moody, and Coquitlam – for suitable new OMC locations immediately adjacent to the guideway of the Expo and Millennium lines.

“The Phase Two investment plan includes upgrades to the Expo and Millennium Lines to expand capacity and improve the customer experience,” said TransLink.

“The study which is the subject of this RFP will consider a range of options to expand storage and maintenance capacity including upgrades to existing OMC facilities and potentially new sites.”

Other OMC facilities for the Expo and Millennium lines include OMC2 – a facility across the street from Edmonds OMC. OMC2 was originally built and operated by Bombardier as the manufacturing plant for the Mark II cars that were ordered for the 2002 opening of the Millennium Line.

SkyTrain OMC

Exterior of OMC2 across the street from the Edmonds OMC in Burnaby. (Google Maps Streetview)

SkyTrain OMC

Aerial view of OMC2 across the street from Edmonds OMC in Burnaby. (Google Maps)

There have been other non-SkyTrain uses for OMC2 in the years since, but it was reacquired by TransLink a few years ago for the space needed to undergo the retrofit of the Mark I cars to extend their lifespan by 15 years. The $37.9-million project to upgrade 114 Mark I cars began in 2013.

As part of the Millennium Line’s Evergreen extension, a purpose-built new OMC with both storage and maintenance capacity was built in Coquitlam between Inlet Centre Station and Coquitlam Central Station – near the southeast corner of the intersection of Falcon Drive and Barnet Highway.

According to TransLink, OMC3 provides light maintenance capability and storage capacity for about 28 cars. Design work for an expansion of this facility, which will directly serve the new cars from the Broadway extension, is already underway.

SkyTrain OMC3

Aerial view of OMC3 on the Millennium Line’s Evergreen extension in Coquitlam. (Google Maps)

SkyTrain OMC3

Street view of OMC3 on the Millennium Line’s Evergreen extension in Coquitlam. (Google Maps Streetview)

The number of cars servicing the Expo and Millennium lines will grow from 286 to 395 by 2027, including a confirmed order of 56 Mark III cars by the end of 2019.

In a separate RFI, TransLink is seeking train suppliers and manufacturers who may have interest in building the future orders of cars, and it notes that the public transit authority has identified a need for additional orders of seven 4-car trains (28 cars), 35 five-car trains (175 cars) between 2021 and 2026, and 18 five-car trains (90 cars) between 2029 and 2032.

Altogether, depending on funding availability, the total potentially adds up to as many as 293 new cars over the coming 15 years, which includes new cars for the required additional capacity to meet ridership growth and the capacity needs from the scheduled 2025 opening of the underground SkyTrain extension of the Millennium Line to Arbutus Street.

But many of these cars will also be used as replacements of the old, aging Expo-era Mark I cars, which will be gradually retired from service starting in 2026.

Upgrades to the Canada Line’s OMC near Bridgeport Station in North Richmond are also being planned, but TransLink did not specify on the details as the expansion is being conducted by ProTrans BC, the private operator of the Canada Line.

The Canada Line will also see a fleet increase of 12 two-car trains (24 cars) by 2020, which will increase the size of the Canada Line’s fleet by 60%.

A new separate OMC for street-level light rail trains is planned for the Surrey light rail transit system, although the exact location and size is unclear at this time.

Canada Line OMC

Aerial view of the Canada Line’s OMC in North Richmond just east of Bridgeport Station. (Google Maps)

Canada Line

A Canada Line train inside the operations and maintenance centre near Bridgeport Station in Richmond. (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)

See also

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Kenneth Chan
National Features Editor at Daily Hive, the evolution of Vancity Buzz. He covers local architecture, urban issues, politics, business, retail, economic development, transportation and infrastructure, and the travel industry. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year's Eve Vancouver. Connect with him at kenneth[at]dailyhive.com

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