West Coast Express service is completely cancelled for Friday morning due to protests

Feb 13 2020, 7:55 pm

TransLink announced this evening it has cancelled all West Coast Express commuter rail service scheduled for Friday morning.

The public transit authority says they have been advised by Canadian Pacific Railway that they will not be able to run commuter rail service due to the continued blockage of the Pitt River railway bridge by protesters. As a result, West Coast Express crews are unable to move trains, conduct necessary maintenance safety checks, and perform routine inspections this evening.

West Coast Express only operates in the peak direction, with five trains from Mission to Waterfront Station during the morning rush, and five trains for the return trip to Mission during the afternoon rush.

Friday morning’s train departures from Mission City were scheduled for 5:25 am, 5:55 am, 6:25 am, 6:55 am, and 7:25 am, with the first train arriving at Waterfront Station at 6:40 am and the last train at 8:40 am.

Service was able to operate as scheduled on Thursday morning, but the blockade beginning later in the day resulted in the cancellation of all Thursday afternoon peak service, which means all of the trains are currently still parked in downtown Vancouver — away from their starting position in Mission.

With service cancelled, TransLink is setting up a bus bridge for passengers travelling between Mission and SkyTrain’s Coquitlam Central Station.

The public transit authority has yet to indicate whether Friday afternoon’s commuter rail service will proceed as planned. Each weekday, the service sees an average ridership of 10,000 boardings.

This commuter rail service leases track time on Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), which has been the target of Wet’suwet’en supporters, who are against the construction of the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline between Dawson Creek in northern BC to the LNG Canada facility on the coast.

Protests across Canada in recent days after shutdown critical railway corridors operated by CPR and Canadian National (CN) for both freight and long-haul passenger traffic.

On Thursday, VIA Rail announced its decision to cease all of its operation across the country until further notice. It uses tracks largely owned by CN.

Within Vancouver, protest action over the last few days blocked arterial roads and bridges. Protesters have targeted Hastings Street, the intersection of Cambie Street and West Broadway, and the Granville Street Bridge. This morning, they blocked the intersection of Wesbrook Mall and University Boulevard on the UBC campus.