A Must Read – Translink’s 10 Year Plan Finances.

A must read.

If you want to understand the financial implications with the Mayor’s Council on Transit 10 year plan as it pertains to the light metro system, our resident expert, Mr. Cow’s comments deserve a post of their own.

From what I can deduce from this is that Bombardier has telegraphed to TransLink that they can no longer depend on them for new cars and had better source a new supplier.

I wonder what other little bombshells there are?

Notice the $1.3 Billion section about the Expo and Millennium section, now $1.47 Billion, of the second Stage summary of the 10 year plan

Phase 2 Summary
$7.3 billion in transportation investments
The Phase Two Investment Plan represents the next milestone in delivering the Mayors’ 10-Year Vision for Metro Vancouver transit and transportation.

Phase 2 Investments
Major Projects
Millennium Line Broadway Extension (Estimated cost: $2.83 B*)
Procurement starts: 2018
Construction starts: 2020
Target completion: 2025
Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT (Estimated cost: $1.65 B*)
Procurement starts: 2018
Construction starts: 2020
Target completion: 2024
*Reflects full project scope, including funding received through Phase 1

Expo/Millennium Line Upgrades Program (Estimated cost: $1.3 B)
203 new SkyTrain cars with more capacity for the Expo and Millenium Lines, including 108 expansion cars and 95 replacement cars
Station upgrades
Construction of upgrades to Burrard and Brentwood stations
Design of future upgrades to stations, including Columbia, Edmonds, and Stadium-Chinatown
Vehicle storage and maintenance capacity expansion
Vehicle storage and maintenance capacity expansion

Rail Operating (Estimated: $495 M)
Increase Expo and Millennium Line service during rush hours, mid-day, and weekends starting in 2019
Increase Canada Line service during rush hours, evenings, and weekends starting in 2020
Operate the Millennium Line Broadway Extension
Operate the Surrey-Newton-Guildford Light Rail Line

Future Projects (Estimated: $36 M)
Project development and early works for the Surrey-Langley Line
Planning for a potential Burnaby Mountain Gondola
Planning for rapid transit to UBC Point Grey campus

Bus Capital (Estimated: $530 M)
151 new buses, as well as replacement buses for existing fleet
Transit priority projects and enhanced passenger amenities along bus routes, including new B-Lines
New bus depot, as well as capacity expansion at existing bus depots

Bus Operating (Estimated: $360 M)
Increase bus service by 8% across the region in 2020 and 2021
Improve service on up to 75 different bus routes that carry over 350,000 passengers across the region every day
Provide new bus service to the following communities:
North Vancouver – Harbourside
Surrey – 68th Avenue Crosstown (Scottsdale to Sullivan), East Fraser Heights
Vancouver – East Fraser Lands (River District)
Implement two new B-Lines by 2021:
Richmond to Expo Line
Scott Road (120th Street)
Extend last SeaBus sailing out of Waterfront Station by 10 minutes to meet the last Canada Line train
Increase HandyDART service by 7% over 2020 and 2021

It’s also clear that by using the term “estimate”, they can rob the Rail Operations portion or any other operations part of the 10 year plan to pay for the higher than expected costs in the Expo/Millennium Capital portion.

The following is from the official RFQ/RFP Ariba website, yes its 5 car consists or 4 car consists expandable to 5 car consists, for the new Skytrains.

(A note from Zweisystem: The MK. 3 car is really a saloon, gangwayed at both ends, which means it can be used in 3,4,or 5 car consists.)

1.1 Capitalized terms used in this Scope of Work have the meanings ascribed to such terms
elsewhere in this RFP, including the contract terms contained within the Production and
Supply Agreement, unless such terms are specifically defined in this Scope of Work or the
context of their use requires otherwise.
1.2 TransLink is seeking proposals for the design, production, supply and delivery of;
1.2.1 A minimum of two-hundred and five (205) Cars to form forty-one (41) Trains
comprised of a 5-Car consist (may include a number of 4-Car expandable Trains to
5-Car Trains);
all as outlined in the Performance Specification, Contract and as more fully described in
this RFP.
1.3 TransLink is seeking pricing and related information for the following Optional Vehicles;
1.3.1 Option year 1 – Up to thirty (30) Cars forming six (6) Trains comprised of a 5-Car
consist; Option to be exercised by the end of 2021; and Cars estimated to be delivered by end of 2025
1.3.2 Option year 2 – Up to seventy (70) Cars forming fourteen (14) Trains comprised of
a 5-Car consist; Option to be exercised by 2024; and Cars estimated to be delivered by 2028
1.3.3 Option year 3 – Up to one-hundred (100) Cars forming twenty (20) Trains
comprised of a 5-Car consist Option to be exercised by 2026; and Cars estimated to be delivered by 2032
1.3.4 Option year 4 – Up to one-hundred (100) Cars forming twenty (20) Trains
comprised of a 5-Car consist Option to be exercised by 2028; and Cars estimated to be delivered by 2034
1.3.5 Option year 5 – Up to one-hundred (100) Cars forming twenty (20) Trains
comprised of a 5-Car consist Option to be exercised by 2030 Cars estimated to be delivered by 2036
1.4 TransLink requires a proposed schedule for delivery of Cars. The schedule should include
a proposed date for delivery and Acceptance of all 205 Cars

These are stage 2 projects so all funding has been secured. What still bugs me is how much is going to be spent on those infrastructure projects. Even the Daily Hive pointed out that this portion of the stage 2 funding will only partially pay for a new Skytrain yard and upgrades to the existing one, which is one of the reasons the $3.112 Billion expansion of the Expo Line to Langley (specifically the 7 km extension to Fleetwood) is so expensive.

I honestly think that Translink thinks that these new trains are going to be much more expensive than previously Bombardier designed cars.

Skytrain fans, if these new trains are built by someone other than Bombardier and the cost per car is more than 10% higher than earlier designs, you have an obvious sign that this is indeed a proprietary technology. All bids should be within 5% of each other and within 10% of earlier designs. Notice, in the information on the bid at the Ariba website, Translink is placing major emphasis on new bidders to “innovate in their designs” wherever possible. This is government speak for, if you find a way to build and maintain these trains cheaper we will view your bid very favorably! These are all hallmarks of not only Skytrains proprietary nature but a transit operator who has been forced, probably kicking and screaming all the way, to openly and publicly expand the bidding process to outside suppliers.

What is also clear from the proposed delivery schedule is that, Translink is expecting the Mark 1 cars to be fully retired by 2030 to 2032. It’s only after that point that there will be enough new skytrain vehicles to completely replace the existing passenger carrying capacity of the Mark 1 fleet and that all new consists after that are clearly expanded passenger carrying capacity. So the network’s expanded passenger carrying capacity will only start to have an effect around 2030 or later. That means only marginal increases in capacity due to some limited infrastructure upgrades for a decade or more. All the existing Skytrain orders, the 14, 4 car consists (which equals 56 cars) will only just cover the basic operational requirements of the Broadway and Fleetwood expansions.


3 Responses to “A Must Read – Translink’s 10 Year Plan Finances.”
  1. Bill Burgess says:

    Mr. Cow and “proprietary technology”:

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.” (Looking-Glass 6.63-65)

    Zwei replies: “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
    ― Aldous Huxley, Complete Essays 2, 1926-29


    adjective: proprietary

    1. relating to an owner or ownership.
    “the company has a proprietary right to the property”
    (of a product) marketed under and protected by a registered trade name.
    “proprietary brands of insecticide”

    noun: proprietary; plural noun: proprietaries

    1. an owner; proprietor.

  2. Sarah says:

    “Bombardier has telegraphed to TransLink that they can no longer depend on them for new cars and had better source a new supplier.”

    Zwei just proved that skytrain is not proprietary.

    Translink can buy new trains from other companies for use on Expo line.

    New canada line trains have already been ordered from Korea.

    There is other companies that can make trains for Expo line.

    Zwei replies: You didn’t read the article did you.

    Being proprietary means you own the particular car and system being used. As the MALM system, (not SkyTrain, as SkyTrain is the name of the light metro system and not the actual railway), is proprietary, not other company makes a compatible, off the shelf vehicle, but they can design one to operate on the Expo and Millennium Lines.

    By designing a compatible car (“you just do not strap LIM’s on a bogie”) a lot of time and expense is expended, maybe costing the company $40 to $50 million more than the owner of the proprietary system. Now on a 200 car order, this may amount to an extra $200 to $250 Thousand per car, which will make an already expensive vehicle, that much more expensive!

    Two examples come to mind, this historic Schwebebahn in Wupppertal Germany, where custom built cars must be made for the historic monorail and Seattle, where it is just too expensive to build new ALWEG monorail cars for their short line. ALWEG went out of business decades ago and to custom design new cars is just cost prohibitive.

    What the article says to me is that bombardier is phasing out of production of the proprietary MALM vehicle (because no one wants the damn thing) and TransLink had better look to new suppliers. This means new cars must be designed, tested and safety cased before they can enter service and this costs a lot of money.

    By the way, the Canada Line is a conventional railway and other companies products can easily operate on the line, even light rail!

  3. Haveacow says:

    @Bill Burgesss, @Sarah et al,

    The core of the argument whether Skytrain is proprietary is really getting old, the sheer cost and the fact that Bombardier is the only one who makes this particular design of LIM propulsion makes those little trains expensive. Right now each section or “car” of a 4-car Mark 3 Skytrain trainset, is $3,750,000. That means a single 4 section trainset or consist is $15 million. The cost per metre length of these vehicles is about 10% higher than Ottawa’s second generation of LRV (Light Rail Vehicle) which I thought was over priced! The price increase associated with possibly having to bring in a new vehicle builder would cause huge increases in vehicle cost.

    Unlike your Skytrains, Ottawa’s Citadis Spirit LRV’s can easily operate at grade, on private roadway rights of way or in mixed traffic, which is far cheaper than kilometers of above grade reinforced concrete rights of way, rights of way Translink doesn’t have the budget to maintain currently. There is still no budget or plan for that matter, to do all the expensive rehabilitation work the Expo Line requires. Much of the upgrades planned in the 10 year transit procurement plan are only secondary and support system work.

    Skytrains just can’t do the same thing as easily or inexpensively as LRT, which means, Light Rail is also more flexible when it comes to railway operations. That flexibility means cheaper operations. As we have been discussing here, what If for some reason Ottawa’s Alstom LRV’s don’t work out and the relationship between RTG, the City of Ottawa and Alstom sours, and new LRV’s are required. There are no fewer than 4 or 5 different companies including Bombardier, who could immediately start building compatible replacement vehicles with great, easily available, existing off the shelf designs. Any new Skytrain supplier is going to have spend tens of millions of dollars and 1-2 years just to design and develop a prototype replacement Skytrain let alone, set up a production line and build 41, 5-car consists.

    So if the builder is not Bombardier, the cost of this development and vehicle design program will be added to the total cost of your order because there are so few other potential customers that, it would be logical to assume this company will attempt to recover all its development costs as quickly as possible.

    You may not call Skytrain a proprietary vehicle design, anyone who is employed by Bombardier and wants to stay employed by Bombardier, wouldn’t ever call it a proprietary vehicle design, certainly very few lower mainland politicians believe it’s a proprietary vehicle design but it certainly costs and behaves like an expensive, niche market filling, proprietary vehicle design.

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