Relief has arrived: Canada Line peak service increased with new trains

Jan 21 2020, 10:56 am

There is now much-needed capacity relief on SkyTrain’s Canada Line, specifically during the busy peak hours starting today.

TransLink announced in a press conference this morning that four new additional two-car trains formally began service today, effectively increasing passenger capacity by 15% during the peak hours or about 800 passengers per hour per direction.

A few other trains have arrived but are still undergoing commissioning, while others are still being manufactured in South Korea by Hyundai Rotem, which also built the fleet of original 20 two-car trains in 2008. The first new train entered the service rotation last fall.

Aside from improved air conditioning and other very minor changes, the new fleet is identical to the original fleet.

Later in Spring 2020, all 12 new additional two-car trains — a total of 24 new additional cars — will enter service, increasing capacity by about 35% compared to 2019 levels. In real numbers, the peak capacity will be increased to over 8,000 pphpd — up from 6,100 pphpd last year. This capacity increase is achieved by running frequencies by up to one minute higher.

Canada Line train SkyTrain

First new Canada Line train now in service, November 2019. (Juan M. Sanchez / submitted)

“It has been a very well done project. The cars are coming more or less on schedule and fully within budget,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond.

“It has been a good project all along, and from all reports the cars are operating really well as they are coming in for testing and commissioning.”

On an average weekday in 2019, the Canada Line recorded an average 150,000 boardings per weekday, representing an increase of about 3% compared to 2018. One in five air travellers use the Canada Line for their journey to or from Vancouver International Airport.

The new train order cost $88 million, with 50% covered by the federal government, 33% from the provincial government, and 17% from TransLink.

An additional $36 million was also spent to expand the train yard storage capacity of the Canada Line’s Operations and Maintenance Centre in Bridgeport and the installation of additional escalators reaching the platform at each of the Canada Line’s three downtown stations.

While the Canada Line is considered a part of TransLink’s SkyTrain network, it is privately operated and maintained under contract by ProTrans BC, a division of SNC-Lavalin. The concession agreement created for the public-private project is set to expire in 2040.

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