New SkyTrain car design includes LCD screens, flex space (PHOTOS)

Nov 13 2021, 12:59 am

SkyTrain passengers can look forward to using new-generation trains that will become one of the dominant models on the fleet used by the Expo and Millennium lines in just a few years.

As part of TransLink’s process of finalizing the design of the new Mark V trains, train manufacturer Alstom has shipped a mockup of a single car to a SkyTrain operations and maintenance centre (OMC) near Edmonds Station in Burnaby.

These will be the longest, highest-capacity SkyTrain cars yet, with the Mark V trains configured as five-car, articulated trains, meaning passengers can walk from one end of the train to the other end — similar to the existing four-car Mark III trains.

New features that can be expected include more open flex space for bike racks, strollers, and wheelchairs, as well as the introduction of more perimeter side seating — similar to the Mark I cars — to improve accessibility and capacity. Some of the flex and standing spaces are also aided by padded leaning rails.

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Mark V SkyTrain mockup (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

mark v skytrain

Mark V SkyTrain mockup (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

mark v skytrain

Mark V SkyTrain mockup (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

mark v skytrain

Mark V SkyTrain mockup (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

Riders will see more flex spaces on the end cars of the train, while more of the typical front-facing row seating can be found in the middle cars. In addition, the “front seat” — regarded as the “best seat” on the train — has returned to the end cars, as it was a request made by SkyTrain attendants for added comfort when trains need to be manually driven.

There will also be a major upgrade to passenger information and communications systems with the installation of a wide LCD digital display overhead the doorways — replacing the wayfinding space currently used for print network maps on older trains and the LED maps on the more recent Mark II and Mark III trains.

The LCD displays could show the real-time train location and next station information on several alternating map interfaces to provide added clarity, including a map of the entire Expo and Millennium system, and a zoomed up map narrowing the location of the train.

The use of such LCD screens will also enable the dynamic display of current time, service interruptions, transit alerts, and potentially even news and weather information.

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Mark V SkyTrain mockup (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

mark v skytrain

Mark V SkyTrain mockup (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

mark v skytrain

Mark V SkyTrain mockup (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

mark v skytrain

Mark V SkyTrain mockup (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

mark v skytrain

Mark V SkyTrain mockup (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

As well, the introduction of light strip indicators on the sides and underneath the LCD displays assists passengers who may be hard of hearing or deaf.

TransLink spokesperson Tina Lovegreen told Daily Hive Urbanized on Friday the design has seen favourable feedback so far from accessibility experts.

It should be emphasized the designs shown in the mockup are only a concept at this time. Before the new fleet of trains are mass produced, TransLink staff will be sending their final design change requests to the manufacturer, including the finalization of the floor colouring scheme.

While the newest existing model of train used on the Expo and Millennium lines is the Mark III, which saw the first trains rolled onto the system in 2016, the name of these new generation trains is the Mark V. Lovegreen explained that Mark IV has not been skipped, as it is assigned to the name of the Mark III trains undergoing some minor upgrades.

Overall, the Mark V trains carry much of the same design as the Mark III, but with some major improvements to interior layout efficiencies, accessibility, and passenger information and communications.

The design of the Mark V is based on the favourable rider feedback the Mark III has received over the years, as well as the results of a public consultation held in 2019 on the design of the new fleet order.

In late 2020, after an international bidding process, TransLink announced it had selected Bombardier Transportation to design and build 205 new train cars (41 five-car trains) for the Expo and Millennium lines at a cost of $723 million. These trains are now technically by Alstom, after the French train-making giant finalized the deal in January 2021 to acquire the rail transportation division of Quebec’s Bombardier, which has been the supplier of generations of trains on the Expo and Millennium lines.

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Mark V SkyTrain mockup (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

mark v skytrain

Mark V SkyTrain mockup (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

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December 2020 artistic rendering of the new Bombardier Mark V trains for TransLink’s new SkyTrain car order. (TransLink)

The capacity from 125 Mark V cars will be used to retire the original fleet of 150 Mark I cars dating from the 1980s and early 1990s, and increase the capacity needed in time for the 2025 opening of the Millennium Line Broadway Extension to Arbutus. Another 80 new cars will be used to improve overall capacity on the Expo and Millennium lines.

The first Mark V train will arrive in 2023, and all new cars will be in service by 2027. These trains will increase peak hour capacities to 17,500 passengers per hour per direction (pphpd) on the Expo Line and 7,500 pphpd on the Millennium Line.

To accommodate the influx of the new long trains, TransLink is conducting a minor expansion to SkyTrain’s operations and maintenance facilities at Edmonds, and constructing a new fourth operations and maintenance centre (OMC4) in Coquitlam just northwest of Braid Station. The new OMC4 facility being built on a 27-acre industrial property at 225 North Road will have an initial storage and maintenance capacity of 145 cars, expandable to an ultimate capacity of 170 cars in the future. Construction on OMC4 began earlier this year and it is slated to reach completion in early 2026, just in time for the surge in fleet size.

Additionally, some station platforms on the Expo and Millennium lines will see slight extensions to meet the minimum requirements of handling the longer Mark V trains.

OMC2, across from SkyTrain’s primary maintenance hub of OMC1 at Edmonds, is also currently undergoing an expansion — the construction of a $110 million, state-of-the-art control centre building for the Expo and Millennium lines. This amounts to a modernization of the SkyTrain control centre and provides added capacity to handle the Millennium Line Broadway Extension and Expo Line Surrey-Langley Extension.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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