The Evergreen Extension of SkyTrain’s Millennium Line could potentially be extended even further eastward to provide rail rapid transit service to Port Coquitlam, perhaps even as far as Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge.
Such a branch would begin at Coquitlam Central Station, and the first few metres of track and the required track switches for such an extension deeper into the Tri-Cities are already built to ensure the extension can be completed without major disruptions to train services.
Unlike the spurs just beyond Columbia Station on the Expo Line and Bridgeport Station on the Canada Line, the extension will have its own dual platform structure located immediately south of the recently completed SkyTrain station structure at Coquitlam Central.
The junction for the spur and track switches towards Pitt Meadows are located before the station, just west of the existing platforms.
“The Port Coquitlam-bound spur branches off before the station for geometry reasons,” Chris Bryan, a spokesperson for TransLink, told Daily Hive.
“The Evergreen Extension makes a pretty tight curve after leaving Coquitlam Central Station before heading north up Pinetree Way towards Lincoln and Lafarge Lake-Douglas stations. If the junction happened east of that station, the curve radius would be infeasibly sharp.”
According to TransLink, two additional platforms will be built, with one platform for trains towards VCC-Clark and another for trains towards Port Coquitlam. The additional inbound platform will be back-to-back with the existing Lafarge-Lake Douglas Station platform, permitting a cross-platform connection, while the other platform to Port Coquitlam will be independent requiring descending and ascending escalators.
The tracks towards the future Coquitlam Central Station platforms for trains to Pitt Meadows.
Track switches and the first sections of tracks to Pitt Meadows are already built immediately west of Coquitlam Central Station.
The Evergreen Extension was constructed in a similar fashion with the track switches, a short section of track, and the bare concrete structure for a third platform at Lougheed Town Centre Station already built as part of the original Millennium Line project in 2002.
At the time, it was envisioned that the Evergreen Extension, then known as the Port Moody-Coquitlam Extension, would be built shortly after the opening of the Millennium Line. Construction did not begin until 2012.
However, an extension to Pitt Meadows could potentially be decades away given that it is far from being a priority. The area does not have the density to make SkyTrain feasible, and this is likely to remain the case for the foreseeable future given that Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge are largely rural, agricultural areas.
Both Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge are currently served by the West Coast Express with stations near their downtown areas, but the commuter rail service only operates with limited runs during the peak hour direction.
As well, there are plans to commence a Lougheed B-Line service, one of five new B-Line routes planned for Metro Vancouver, before the end of the decade. It will operate from Coquitlam Central Station to Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge with buses running every 15 minutes daily.
B-Line rapid bus services in the region have typically served as a precursor to SkyTrain service, as a way to show that a route or certain corridor has the proven demand for rail rapid transit.
A SkyTrain extension to Pitt Coquitlam could be as long as two kilometres while an extension to Maple Ridge could potentially necessitate a new crossing over Pitt River. Alternatively, the 2009-built, seven-lane Pitt River Bridge could be utilized for the SkyTrain crossing across the river as the bridge is designed with the future flexibility for different lane alterations, including rail rapid transit and an eighth lane.
With the Evergreen Extension now complete, attention is now turning to funding the construction of the Broadway extension of the Millennium Line to Arbutus Street and Surrey’s new light rail network. The latest estimates peg the construction cost of the projects at $2 billion and $2.6 billion, respectively.