Delusion Drives SkyTrain Planning South of the Fraser

The old fogies of politics are now driving the change from LRT to SkyTrain in Surrey.

The same old lies.

The same old deceit.

The same old ignorance is now gaining control of regional transit south of the Fraser, as it has done in the rest of Metro Vancouver.

The SkyTrain Lobby doesn’t care about facts, hell no, they just invent their own facts to suit the occasion.

Oh they love to link; accident here, a death there and woe to those who want light rail.

TransLink, on the other hand, hides the facts and they certainly know how to spin the truth to suit their needs.

The following statement from the Daily Hive, an electronic news paper, demonstrates how the SkyTrain delusion has gotten hold of Langley City Council.

“Langley City Council concludes that the SkyTrain technology for Stage 2 – Fraser Highway Corridor between King George Station and Langley is superior to Light Rapid Transit (LRT) based on the perspective of safety, travel time, reliability and potential for future extensions,” reads the December 2017 resolution, which was released publicly for the first time this week.

Here is some news for Langley Council:

  1.  Actually, LRT is more safe than SkyTrain, when a one on one comparison is made between ALRT/ART and LRT.
  2. Travel time is mostly dependent on the number of stations or stops per route km. Quality of rights-of-ways is also important but LRT’s reserved rights-of-ways, are of the same quality of R-o-W as SkyTrain’s elevated R-o-W. Both modes will have almost equal travel times. As well, SkyTrain performs poorly in the snow and it snows in Langley!
  3.  As SkyTrain is a proprietary railway and Vancouver and Kuala Lumpor are the only two cities in the world that operates SkyTrain as an urban railway, it seems quite probable that Bombardier will abandon production of SkyTrain in the very near future, maybe even before the funding is in place for a SkyTrain extension to Langley. Only seven sold in 40 years tells the tale.
  4.  Then of course, there is no mention of the around $3 billion upgrade to the present ALR/ART Innovia SkyTrain system before any extension to Langley can be made!
Yes delusion is driving transit transit south of the Fraser and delusion is the only real currency of the SkyTrain Lobby.


7 Responses to “Delusion Drives SkyTrain Planning South of the Fraser”
  1. Langley says:

    Skytrain to Langley will be faster. Have you ever taken the bus from Langley? Pathetic slow bus exists from Langley.

    The proposed LRT to Langley will not use a right of a way. It will use fraser highway. Look on google maps, fraser highway is only 2 lanes in Surrey. Building the LRT will require removing trees and land from parks. An elevated skytrain will have minimal effect on parks.

    If the LRT to Langley would use a different route instead of Fraser highway then It may be better option.

    Zwei replies: Faster to where? That is the question. Are you going to spend $6 billion, give or take a few tens of millions of dollars, to save maybe 5 minutes? If you are willing to do this, you are far more daft than one would think.

  2. Haveacow says:

    @ Langley, to further Zwei’s point. Right now the Expo line can’t move more than 15,000 Passengers/Hour/Direction. That is the theoretical capacity limit of the line. The practical limit of the Expo Line is around 14,100 p/h/d. Currently, the Expo line averages 12,800-13,500 during peak, according to TransLink and CUTA. Practically speaking, the Expo line’s capacity is maxed out during peak periods. Any expansion of the line to Langley will have this simple fact, it’s effectiveness will be limited because you will be just shoving more passengers on a longer trip to downtown, along a rail line which can’t carry many more passengers, especially at peak hours. For example, if you currently get on the Expo Line in Surrey during the morning peak period, any expansion of the line towards Langley will probably mean that, the seat you normally would get will more than likely, be taken by someone who boarded before you. Since there’s no extra passenger carrying capacity not only are you standing over the length of your normal trip, your rail car gets crowded much faster, much sooner, after the start of your journey.

    Therefore, a capacity increase of some sort will be needed on the Expo line. The expansion to Langley will force a passenger carrying capacity increases to facilitate the greater number of peak hour trips, just to keep the network functioning. Any capacity expansion to the Expo Line will also have to be done concurrently with the many “end of life” infrastructure upgrades that this 32 year old line already desperately needs. A project list that keeps growing and are not fully costed out.

    When Zwei says, that the Expo Line will need $3 Billion in upgrades, he’s using my numbers! Nearly all of those upgrades are not included in any phase of Translink’s current 10 Year Plan! So any part of the $2.9 Billion line extension to Langley will require many Billions of expensive and incredibly time consuming upgrades, any expansion of this line no matter how small. The Millennium Line extension along Broadway to Arbutus is using up the last of any extra system support capacity the Skytrain Network had left. That is main reason you haven’t seen much expansion on this end of the Expo Line, in the last decade or more. What was left of the support capacity was going to be used somewhere else on the Network.

    This is also one of the reasons many other outside people that zwei consulted with, including me, recommended to not build the extremely expensive Broadway extension. Especially considering how few people it was really going to move on a daily basis vs not just the hefty capital cost but the complete draining out of the last of Skytrain’s Network capacity in many areas. Any Skytrain extension beyond this will at the minimum, will require one new storage, maintenance and operations centre, power system upgrades and repairs (none of which have even been budgeted for), a large amount of track replacements and upgrades, switch upgrades and a whole host of signal equipment and physical support infrastructure upgrades for that new signaling equipment. Currently, only network wide signal system software and physical signaling infrastructure upgrades inside the boundaries of the current operations and maintenance centre have been budgeted and have funding. Nearly all of the really expensive upgrades I have been talking about before this article, aren’t included in the list from this article! This is why Zwei is saying that any expansion of the Expo Line to Langley (cost $2.9 Billion) will definitely require another $1-3 Billion in life extension repairs, massive amounts of track and physical support infrastructure replacements as well as structural concrete repairs and stabilization upgrades to the above grade infrastructure of the line. There is a reason TransLink favors LRT out in Surrey over the Skytrain technology, it has nothing to do with travel times and everything to do with how much of a rapid transit network, they believe that they can effectively build and afford to operate over the long term! They are effectively saying, “Skytrain has become too expensive to expand unless really large passenger increases are possible!”

  3. Causa causans says:

    It is always amusing the rustic attitudes about transit that seem to flow from the civic politic in British Columbia. Costs seem not to bother anyone, including the much feared taxpayer.

    Nowhere to be seen is any annual operational and maintenance costs which any astute politician would want to know. Or is it a local phenomenon that politicians wish to remain ignorant of such costs.

    From our investigations, we have found Vancouver’s automated metro very expensive indeed, even more expensive than our own expensive VAL light-metro.

    SkyTrain would never be allowed to operate without some sort of official presence on the metro and it has puzzled us why in the litigious North America, there are so few lawsuits filed by customers against the operating authority. Is it that people do not know or exercise their legal rights or is there not the laws to protect the transit consumer?

    From our perspective, it would be daft (?) to build any more SkyTrain either in a subway or on a viaduct and we still think it equally daft (?) that the politcal infrastructure still whole heatedly supports SkyTrain.

  4. Langley says:

    @ Mr Cow.

    You are funny.

    Skytrain to Langley does not need to move more than 15,000 Passengers/Hour/Direction. Langley is fast growing area but will not equal Vancouver or even Surrey.

    Translink is already upgrading the expo line. Many stations already been upgraded like Metrotown, Main street. Broadway and Joyce is still in construction. Burrard and Granville are next.

    Everyone in Langley favours extending skytrain to Langley. No on in Langley wants Surrey’s little LRT train.

    Zwei replies: You are utterly stupid, but then most who adhere to the SkyTrain Lobby are extremely illogical.

    I wonder if there would be the support for SkyTrain if they knew that property taxes will rise; gas taxes will significantly rise and that road pricing will be implemented.

    I guess you would vote fro Trump as well, you have the mind set for it.

  5. Haveacow says:

    No @Langley they have not! They don’t even fully know what they have to do yet, to begin an actual upgrade. This is a brief survey of the components needing work. The actual full list would take too long to type. Many if not nearly all of the costs for these aren’t part of the current 10 year plan. Meaning, they won’t see a lot of attention until 2024 or later when most of the current work in the 3 stages of Translink’s 10 year plan is either fully complete or is well along the path to completion. The Expo Line’s original section will be around 40 years old by then.

    1. The Expo Line’s power systems must be upgraded or they can’t exceed the number of trains per hour they are currently running! All the running way electric transformers have to be upgraded or the increased number of trains will cause the electric current level to drop below the operating threshold and they all stop. If they had even begun this process yet they have to show you the environment assessment that they did. Electrical transformers have PCB’s in them you just can’t swap old and new ones with each other. They are also very large, usually in one of those huge locked rooms in the stations, it will take a few weeks to do just one!

    2 Much of the power cables which connect from the electric system to the third rails and the induction rail need to be either replaced or have the current connection ripped out entirely and relaid with new technology. A friend who did get the contract for some of this work from TransLink won’t be finished his assessment for weeks. What he has said so far is no less than a few months of work if they shut the line down completely, much longer if they want to keep the Expo running while they do the work.

    3. Yes they are doing upgrade work on a few stations, but the whole viaduct structure of the Expo Line, about 18-20 km worth between the stations is 3 and half decades old and aging rapidly. Concrete ages at a geometric rate and you guys are right at the point of the geometric curve were the costs are about to take off. There is no budget for this work, there isn’t even an official assessment of the full costs yet. This work will take year or more, depending on the amount of concrete degradation. Would you like to see the pictures of the pieces of the viaduct that fell from the structure when the planning/engineering firm I was consulting with got a tour of the Skytrain system. One of the engineers I worked with confirmed advanced concrete degradation was occuring. She’s on maternity leave right now, twins very very cute!

    4. All of the mainline turnouts (track switches) need to be changed from the shorter slow speed variety to the much longer higher speed variety. This makes running more trains possible because you don’t have to slow down as much when you run through them. I believe many people have been complaining about this phenomena lately. I know they did an assessment but the work will takes months if not years and may require certain track sections to be shut down on the weekends or at the least, early closing of affected sections during the week. The motors and all the cabling between the motors, power supply and signal boxes of the turnouts which allow the control room staff to remotely activate the turnouts need work immediately. Many of the mentioned turnout components need replacement as well.

    5. As I mentioned before, many components of the signaling system on the main line have to be replaced. Thales, the company that made most of them knows their supply of spare parts is running out! Like Zwei said, Automatic Train Control, is all about the signaling. Their cable connections, remote antenna control units, tower supports and other components determine the how well the Citiflo 650 operating system runs your trains. The hardware which gets ignored often in these systems, is quickly approaching end of it’s useful lifespan. This work is extremely time consuming and will take months or longer if the system is kept running during the upgrades/replacement!

    6. When all this work is done, TransLink then sends a report to both Transport Canada and the Canadian Transportation Agency, which then spend a year or more monitoring Skytrain and it’s repairs as well as Translink’s operating procedures. They make observations, requests and change orders for TransLink to implement. After they are implemented, they do on site inspections, conduct tests and drills. If all is good, they recommend changes to Skytrain’s Operating Certificate, a large set of legal documents that take up multiple shelves actually, it’s signed by the minister, given a rubber stamp by BC’s Ministry of Transportation and only then will TransLink be able to operate more trains then they do now!

  6. Causa causans says:

    Quite right Mr. Cow.

    I do not think the majority of people realize how complicated an automatic metro is to operate and the constant preventative maintenance needed to keep them in operation trouble free.

    Driverless systems are just that, driverless and when the metro goes ka-put, there is no one in authority near to deal with it.

    In Germany the laws are such that if a driverless system breaks down, some one in authority must be able to reach it in minutes, or criminal charges maybe laid, not to mention civil litigation. This is why all automatic metros have a driver on board, just in case and is cheaper in the long term.

    The high costs of subway maintenance, especially those mid term repair costs, certainly makes our tram networks extremely cost effective.

    We are constantly amazed with your local transit myths, especially with your SkyTrain, such a system just would not be built here, or even contemplated.

  7. Jacomb says:

    Looks like translink need to do some more work to upgrade the expo line. it does look and feel very dated. it is not the oldest subway.

    The subways in London, England are the oldest at 150+ years old which are being upgraded the subways (renovated stations, tunnels, new trains).

    Expo line tunnels downtown and waterfront station are over 100 years old built by CPR, were renovated in 1980′s.

    An extension to Langley will have a new operations and storage centre in Langley.

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