First of 12 new trains for the Canada Line now in service (PHOTOS)

Nov 4 2019, 2:21 pm

The first new additional train for the Canada Line is now in service, providing much-needed relief for this capacity-constrained SkyTrain line.

TransLink confirmed to Daily Hive Urbanized that one new train entered service starting on November 1. It will increase the number of spare trains on the system, allowing for more trains to be used as a backup to deal with potential service disruptions and to undertake daytime maintenance.

By early 2020, a total of 12 new additional two-car trains will enter service, increasing the Canada Line’s train fleet size to 32 two-car trains.

Canada Line train SkyTrain

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

When all cars are in use, scheduled frequencies will be increased to provide the Canada Line with the ability to reach a peak capacity of over 8,000 passengers per hour per direction (pphpd) — up from roughly 6,100 pphpd today. Frequencies will increase by up to one minute during peak hours.

Aside from the condition of the new trains, these can be easy to miss as they are identical to the original fleet of 20 two-car trains built in 2008 by the same manufacturer, South Korea’s Rotem Hyundai.

Curiously, other than upgraded air conditioning, there have been zero improvements to the train’s interior design from more than a decade ago, despite TransLink’s recent focus on improving passenger amenities and customer service, and the public consultation conducted earlier this year on the design for the future train fleet additions for the Expo Line and Millennium Line.

Canada Line train SkyTrain

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

While there are certainly operating and maintenance benefits of using the exact same train design, the extent of the sameness between the two fleets that are over 10 years apart is mind boggling.

The new Canada Line trains would have greatly benefitted from an improved seating configuration, and additional bars and overhead handles that better enable spaces for standing passengers.

Dynamic digital route maps illuminated by LED lighting — a growing standard for subway trains — are also absent from the new trains, even though they would be highly useful for the high volume of tourists that travel on this SkyTrain line to and from the airport.

Canada Line train SkyTrain

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

In contrast, significant design upgrades have been made to the trains used on the Expo Line and Millennium Line over the years.

The additional Bombardier Mark II trains that arrived in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics had significant passenger-oriented design upgrades compared to the original Mark II trains that were ordered for the opening of the Millennium Line in 2002, such as the introduction of dynamic route maps and an improved seating configuration that allows for better passenger flow inside the train.

The new generation four-car, fully articulated Bombardier Mark III train, first used in 2016, also features significant passenger-oriented design improvements over the Mark II.

TransLink SkyTrain cars

Interior of a Mark III SkyTrain car. (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)

Dynamic route map illuminated by LED lighting on the Mark III SkyTrain car. (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)

The Canada Line’s new train fleet order cost $88 million. Another $35 million has been spent to expand the train storage capacity at the operations and maintenance centre in Bridgeport, and the installation of additional escalators to the platforms of all three downtown stations.