Relief is coming: First new Canada Line trains to arrive this summer

Mar 19 2019, 7:44 pm

Sometime this summer, a cargo ship docking at Vancouver’s port will unload the first brand new additional Canada Line train cars.

A report by TransLink staff issued ahead of a board of directors meeting states South Korean train manufacturer Hyundai Rotem is nearly ready to deliver the first two of 24 new Canada Line cars that were ordered at a cost of $88 million.

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This first two-car train will be in service starting in late 2019, following the completion of testing and commissioning.

Additional trains are scheduled to arrive throughout 2019 at a rate of four cars (two two-car trains) per month and will enter service as they are commissioned.

The Canada Line’s storage yard at the Bridgeport operations and maintenance facility was recently expanded to allow for an expanded train fleet, which will increase the Canada Line’s capacity from 6,100 passengers per hour per direction (pphpd) to 8,000 pphpd — effectively reducing severe overcrowding.

When all of the new trains are in operation, the Canada Line’s train frequencies will be able to increase from every 3 minutes 20 seconds to every 2 minutes 30 seconds on the mainline between Waterfront Station and Bridgeport Station and from 6 minutes 40 seconds to every five minutes on the split spans from Bridgeport Station to Richmond-Brighouse Station and Brighouse Station to YVR Airport Station.

These new trains for the Canada Line will be the same model as the original batch built a decade ago, with the exception of some improvements such as a more powerful air conditioning system and retractable seating areas at both ends of the train to increase standing capacity during busy peak periods.

Separately, TransLink is receiving 56 new Mark III cars from Bombardier for the Expo Line and Millennium Line throughout 2019.

New SkyTrain operations control centre and train yards

The report also provided highlights of several new directions for Expo Line and Millennium Line infrastructure, including a new SkyTrain operations and control centre to be built at Operations and Maintenance Centre (OMC) 2 — located directly across from the main Edmonds OMC in Burnaby.

Combined with automatic train control improvements, the new modern control centre at OMC 2 will replace the existing 1980s-era control centre at a cost of $110 million by 2023. It will be extensively tested before being utilized in time for the opening of the Broadway Extension in 2025.

SkyTrain control centre

The 1980s-built SkyTrain control centre for the Expo Line and Millennium Line. (TransLink)

A further $73 million will be spent on improving the maintenance facilities of the Edmonds OMC, particularly the capability to handle longer five-car trains.

TransLink is also studying the feasibility of building an additional new SkyTrain storage yard, dubbed OMC 4, with a budget of $270 million, which will handle many of the coming $932-million order of 203 new cars that will be added through the mid-2020s. A site for this new facility has not been determined, and there is no timeline for its completion at this stage of planning.

Currently, the public transit authority is in the progress of expanding OMC 3 — the train yard along the Millennium Line in Coquitlam — to handle 30 additional cars. Its completion is anticipated by the end of this year.

More station improvements

It appears TransLink is no longer considering implementing a plan to construct a new elevator-only entrance for Burrard Station. Previous plans indicated that a secondary entrance with six elevators was being contemplated for the east side of Burrard Street, directly across from the existing main entrance at Art Phillips Park – right outside the Park Place office tower where the 95 B-Line bus stop is located.

But the report states the construction cost for this ‘East Entry’ option of providing Burrard Station with more capacity is higher than originally anticipated. Instead, planners are reviewing options to improve the existing entrance with a budget ceiling of $75 million.

Burrard Station SkyTrain

Potential concept of the new secondary entrance into Burrard Station with only elevators. (VIA Architecture / TransLink)

Some unspecified second phase improvements are also planned for Brentwood Station at a cost of $17 million by 2023. For phase one, which is currently being reviewed by the City of Burnaby, TransLink plans to improve the south side of the station with a new elevator, staircase enclosure, and bus driver washroom facilities.

Hundreds of new buses arriving this year

TransLink is scheduled to receive over 500 new and additional buses throughout 2019. This includes 238 new buses to replace ageing fleets and 105 new buses for service expansion, as well as 88 new buses from a batch that began arriving in 2018.

Following a successful double-decker pilot project period, the new fleet of 32 double-decker buses for long-haul suburban routes will arriving during the latter half of the year.

Four battery-electric buses are scheduled to arrive later this spring for a multi-year pilot project of running Route 100 — travelling along Marine Drive through Vancouver, Burnaby and New Westminster — as an electric-bus service.

Dozens of vehicles will also arrive for replacements and expansions of the Community Shuttle and HandyDART fleets.

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