SkyTrain Costs That TransLink Do No Want The Taxpayer To Know

Many people who advocate for more SkyTrain extensions in the metro region, do not understand the costs associated with automatic train control or ATC, necessary for driverless operation.

The cost of resignalling just one subway line in Toronto is said to cost CAD $562 million.

TransLink’s problem is that to increase capacity on the Innovia SkyTrain Lines beyond its current maximum capacity of 15,000 pphpd, the current aging ATC system must be replaced on the entire system at a cost considerably higher than the cost of $562 million for one subway line in Toronto.

So TransLink’s way of dealing with the problem is not dealing with the problem.

For those advocating extending SkyTrain in Surrey, please add the Innovia SkyTrain’s cost of resignalling, please.

No? Thought so.

And I also forgot to mention, LRT does not have issues of the high cost of ATC.

By Ben SpurrTransportation Reporter
Wed., July 11, 2018

The TTC has placed a crucial project to increase capacity on Toronto’s most crowded subway line under review, amid a staffing shakeup that has seen senior figures involved with the program either depart the agency or placed on leave.

TTC CEO Rick Leary revealed the consultant review of the $562-million automatic train control (ATC) system last week in a single paragraph in his 68-page monthly report to the board.

The signalling system, which the TTC is in the process of installing on Line 1 (Yonge-University), would allow the agency to run trains closer together, enabling more service during the busiest times of day.

In an emailed statement, TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said a decision to launch a review “should not suggest there’s a problem with a project,” but the agency would commission a review “to ensure a project will deliver what it has promised to deliver.”

He said the exercise will determine whether the installation of ATC will enable the promised capacity improvements without any additional work, or whether the TTC might also need to upgrade the subway line’s power supply, ventilation systems, and vehicle fleet in order to run the required additional trains.

It will also determine whether ATC infrastructure can be fully installed by the previously announced date of 2019, and after that, when the capacity improvements could be fully realized.

“If there are schedule issues, this review will inform that,” Ross said.

With regular ridership of 30,000 people per hour during morning peak periods, sections of the Yonge line south of Bloor station frequently exceed scheduled capacity of about 28,000 passengers per hour. High passenger volumes, particularly during subway delays, have recently sparked safety concerns.

According to the TTC, once ATC is operational it could increase capacity on the line by as much as 25 per cent, which is critical to relieving crowding on Line 1 until the proposed relief subway line can be built. The city estimates it could be until 2031 until the new subway is complete.

News of the review follows the departure of a number of TTC managers whose responsibilities included ATC work.

For the rest of the story, please click here

Comments

15 Responses to “SkyTrain Costs That TransLink Do No Want The Taxpayer To Know”
  1. Haveacow says:

    The Automatic Control system for the Skytrain is the Citiflo 650 by Bombardier, it (hardware and software) can be updated relatively easily. The real problem is the actual Thales, 1980′s era signaling equipment and the associated cabling which needs to be replaced soon. Throw in the worn out low speed turnouts (switches) that are in use around the Expo Line and their growing need to be upgraded to higher speed turnouts (which take up more space), as well as their cabling needs and you have a big expensive job ahead you.

    However, the connection to Skytrain’s third rail system through its cabling, is the system which is in the most desperate need of upgrade. A large number of your equipment breakdowns, including a few of those mysterious smoky fires (including the burning birds nests), can be traced back to the age of the cabling on the Expo Line and their connection to other hardware in the system. With the Expo Line’s 19-20km first stage launched in 1985-1986, you are looking at possibly 10,000+ km of cabling and hardware to replace.

    This doesn’t cover the cost to the much needed upgrade and or stabilizing of the 15+km of 33+ year old, above grade concrete Skytrain right of way (between the stations) which will need to start immediately, if you hope to keep cost down to a manageable amount. No budget currently exists for this yet! Remember, concrete ages and wears out at a geometric rate. This means that, upgrade costs start low but can quickly grow and will eventually explode to a point where the only option is complete replacement, which is also very expensive.

    As per the portion of the TTC’s Yonge Street Subway south of Bloor Street to Union Station, it can actually handle up to 32,000 p/h/d (passengers/hour/direction) however, having been on that subway line during a point where the system was estimated to be carrying 31,120 p/h/d, I can tell you its extremely unpleasant for passengers. This is a paramount point to the TTC. Automatic Transit Control is needed so the existing line can be used comfortably by passengers up to a point where, the Downtown Relief Line starts construction around 2020-21, it seems to be one of the few rail transit projects Ontario’s Ford Regime seems to be fast tracking. This is so, stage 1 of the DRL can redirect up to 14-16,000 p/h/d away from the Yonge and University Lines during peak periods as well as reduce pressure on the Bloor-Yonge Station interchange.

  2. Bill Burgess says:

    Hiding in plain sight, a selection of some of the rail-related expenditures projected in Translink’s capital program (either underway or planned):

    (see p. 36-40 in https://www.translink.ca/-/media/Documents/about_translink/corporate_overview/corporate_reports/business_plan/2018_Business_Plan_Operating_and_Capital_Budget.pdf?la=en&hash=E2E831A2AF03AF8EE75A4E27DC20ED33942DC347)

    Canada Line Capacity Expansion – OMC/System Upgrades $25.0 million
    Automatic Train Control (ATC) Existing Equipment Replacement Phase 2 5.1 million
    ATC Existing Equipment Replacement on Expo LIne 12.4 million
    ATC System Recovery and Operation Improvements 5.1 million
    Power System Upgrades for Skytrain at Operations and Maintenance Centre 4.4 million
    Millennium Line Fire Safety System 7.6 million
    Expo Line Millennium Rail Upgrades – Vehicle Storage Facilities 27.5 million
    Expo Line Station Escalators – Stage 4 27.4 million
    Skytrain OMC Upgrades (Install new ATC hardware and modify existing ATC hardware) 50,0 million
    Expo Line Upgrade Strategy – Burrard Station 60.7 million
    Joyce Station Upgrades – Phase II 13.1 million
    Running Rail Replacement 7.1 million
    Metrotown Station and Exchange Upgrade Design 68.8 million
    Commercial Broadway Sky Train Station Phase 2 Upgrade Design 73.1 million
    Surrey Central Station Upgrades Design 19.9 million
    Canada Line Fleet Expansion 88.0 million
    Expo Fleet Expansion (20 cars) 80.0 million

    I see about $73 million in ATC-labeled items. Perhaps someone knows how many ‘phases’ there are and the total for all ‘phases’ so we know if Zwei’s estimate of “considerably more” than $562 million for Vancouver’s ATC is reasonable.

  3. zweisystem says:

    TransLink is very adept at hiding costs, they have to because SkyTrain is so costly to maintain.

    How much of the costs can be attributed to deferred maintenance?

    But here is one cost, one should consider. $80 million for 20 cars or $4 million per car, but it takes # MK. 2 cars (cost $12 million) to match the capacity one Alstom tram being used in Ottawa costing $6 million.

    One of the many reasons Vancouver’s SkyTrain is deemed as a museum piece.

    There must be a reason no one builds with it, Bill?

  4. zweisystem says:

    How much does 10,000 km of cable cost?

  5. Bill Burgess says:

    Are these the Ottawa cars? Cdn$300/38= $7.9 million each, not $6 million.

    “Alstom has been awarded a contract worth close to €200 million (approximately CA$300 million) by Rideau Transit Group (RTG) [1] to supply 38 Citadis Spirit light rail vehicles for the Stage 2 O-Train Light Rail Transit Expansion Project in Ottawa, Ontario.” (see http://www.alstom.com/press-centre/2017/06/alstom-to-supply-38-citadis-spirit-lrvs-for-stage-2-of-ottawas-o-train-confederation-line/ )

    Zwei usually ignores headway when providing capacity comparisons, which is an important aspect of the ATC issue. Not that it is the basis for comparing system cost and performance, but Mr Cow, what is a fair capacity comparison of the Vancouver and Ottawa cars taking into consideration their respective headways?

    Zwei replies: Bill Burgess usually ignores facts, but then those in the SkyTrain Lobby usually do.

    The cost of the Ottawa cars I believe include spare parts and maintenance, if I am not mistaken, while I used an off the shelf price. Also what should be factored in is that the LRV’s can have their capacity increased rather cheaply by installing another module.

    As LRT can obtain closer headway’s than SkyTrain, the capacity question is moot.

    Really though, you are flogging a dead horse because LRT made ALRT/ART obsolete decades ago as no one builds with it any more. No one wants it. That is why they keep changing its name.

    You see Bill, you ignore the one big fact, no one want the damn thing, with only 7 built in 40 years and only 3 seriously used for urban transit. You see Bill, other cities do “Due Diligence”, when spending billions of dollars; no so here. In fact light rail has never been allowed to compete against SkyTrain. Excuse me, let me rephrase that; Siemens and Alstom have never been allowed to compete with LRT against Bombardier’s and SNC’s SkyTrain and I wonder why?

  6. Causa causans says:

    Mr. Burgess, I do not think you realize how much your SkyTrain system is held in contempt by the wider transportation community around the world.

    It carries a lot of passengers, yes, but most are forced to transfer to drive up boarding numbers. There is very little evidence that SkyTrain has captured the all important motorist from the car.

    As your SkyTrain is so expensive to build and operate, your region cannot build the number of transit lines needed to attract the motorist from the car and by world standards, SkyTrain fails.

    This is one of the main reasons why your SkyTrain fails to find a market, important for a proprietary transit system.

    It is thought, by those who know Vancouver’s transit scene, the Broadway subway will be the end of SkyTrain and wagers are being placed by knowledgeable engineers, weather the project will even be completed.

    Subways are very complicated and one would have thought Vancouver learned a vital lesson with the Canada Line.

    It is now obvious Vancouver has not.

    The transit illiteracy displayed by your politicians, planners and even some engineers is all but breathe taking and would not be tolerated on our side of the Atlantic.

    As it stands, Vancouver may find itself with a very expensive hole in the ground; a bankrupt transit agency, and a failing transit system as your geriatric SkyTrain sputters along after breakdown, after breakdown.

    This is the lesson of Vancouver.

  7. Haveacow says:

    Headway the distance or time between transit vehicles is really important for passengers less so for most operators, unless you have a Skytrain like system. As for the minimum headway allowed, the really important thing is how close both systems (Ottawa and Vancouver) are to their minimum operating headway. Vancouver being far closer to theirs than Ottawa will be with theirs. The closer you are to it the less operational wiggle room you have when real problems occur.

    The Skytrain system at it’s core is about providing high service frequencies (low operating headways) instead of providing built in passenger carrying capacity with infrastructure. This means that tempo that the Skytrain operates at is always highly stressed. As systems age, maintenance goes up because parts are wearing out. Each maintenance problem during normal operations increases the stress on the whole Rail system. Systems constantly under high stress don’t last as long.

    The Confederation Line like it or not, has a lot of built in passenger carrying capacity, which has increased it’s construction complexity. Each consist (train) has two LRV’s, each LRV is large and can be made larger by the insertion of a fifth vehicle section to produce an LRV that is 59.5 metres long, instead of the current 48.5 metres long 4 section LRV. Again capacity seems to be what’s important here. The Confederation Line is expected to handle a minimum of 210,000 passengers a day on it’s opening day. 210,000 passengers a day is what this section of the Transitway (Tunney’s Pasture to Blair stations) is already moving before and during construction of the Confederation Line. Again some of the stations might seem overbuilt unless you saw the size of station they were replacing. The first fully commissioned station, Blair Station, has to handle 8000 passengers/hour/direction during peak and cycle through about 130 buses/hour!

    Here is a video of the tour by the mayor and some other bigwigs.

    https://youtu.be/qzdtxbfMZXE

    What is important here is that regardless of the minimum headway which will be about 3 minutes 15 seconds of the Confederation Line is that future growth is possible and not limited by massive and expensive capacity enlarging capital works programs that the Skytrain needs. They made great efforts to future proof the line. It’s enough the Confederation Line’s ATC is functioning for now and not worrying about comparisons to other Automatic Control Systems such as Bombardier’s Citiflo 650 System which operates the Skytrain. We are trying to put in capacity that the BRT system just didn’t have unless, absolutely enormous amounts of money both capital and operational were laid out. Far more than what we are spending on the LRT network, both capital and operational!

  8. Causa causans says:

    Yes indeed, Mr. Havacow, quite correct.

    I would go further and say that Ottawa’s new LRT is not unlike Deutsche S-Bahn rather than European tram.

    This demonstrates the point. Ottawa’s LRT can act as S-Bahn, but it also can act as tram on different routes.

    This is something SkyTrain just cannot do.

    What does puzzle me, after correspondence with associates in Vancouver is why a subway at all. There is little scope for ridership increase, unless there is direct servcie to downtown, but with the Canada Line, this would be impossible.

    As well the Canada line is so limited in capacity, it certainly cannot handle the traffic. Oh those 40m long station platforms. We continually shake our heads at this decision.

    With Ottawa, the LRT is universal and maybe Ottawa will see Canada’s first Zweisystem.

    Und yes Mr. Burgess, on our side of the pond, we do not rely on census numbers, transportation specialists collect their own data, by there own methods. SkyTrain has impressed no one, except your very small clique of enthusiasts. I like our Schwebebahn, but I would not recommend extending it, the same should be true of your SkyTrain.

  9. Bill Burgess says:

    This comparison is crude, but please, someone else, do a better job and correct any errors!

    The current Expo Line headway is rated at 108 seconds (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SkyTrain_rolling_stock), though it potentially could, technically be reduced to about 93 seconds (see, e.g. https://www.thalesgroup.com/en/events/uitp/news/vancouver)

    Mr Cow cited a 195 second headway for Ottawa, though this source refers to 300 seconds for initial operations: http://www.ligneconfederationline.ca/news/ready-for-rail-how-often-will-it-come/.

    The Skytrain average speed is about 45 km/hr. The Confederation line average speed is rated at 35 km/hr (http://www.ligneconfederationline.ca/the-build/vehicle/overview/).

    Vancouver’s 108 second headway and 45 km/hr and Ottawa’s 195 seconds and 35 km/hr means that to carry the same number of passengers the Ottawa cars and stations need to hold 1.4 as many passengers to achieve the same capacity as Vancouver (195/108*35/45= 1.4). That is not very different that the above cost ratio for the cars (according to Zwei, 3 Vancouver cars costing $12 million vs. $7.9 million (my source) for one Ottawa car =1.5 (but someone please check Zwei’s assumptions about passengers per car).

    Although I take Mr Cow’s point about the stress on the system, in terms of the issue at hand and the crude metrics used here it is basically a wash – 1.4 vs. 1.5.

    Zwei claims that everyone who challenges his usually unsupported pronouncements is part of a Sky Train lobby.

    Not so.

    I just don’t accept his argument that transit in Vancouver would be all peachy if not for Skytrain, that it is THE problem, and not, for example, a sub-optimal choice made decades ago that we need to make the best of.

    And Mr. Causans, contrary to your argument, Vancouver with Skytrain has increased the share of transit ridership over the past 15 years more than any other metro in Canada with their systems (see https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/census-2016-spike-in-number-of-canadians-cycling-taking-public-transit-to-work/article37127643/), though rather than saying Vancouver is doing best if would be better to say it is doing lease bad.

    Blaming everything on Skytrain is a distraction and harms the pro-transit position.

    Zwei replies: You are so typical of the SkyTrain Lobby, transit is a fairy-tale. In reality, SkyTrain is allowed a maximum capacity of 15,000 pphpd and headway’s have little to o with it. Trams can operate at 30 second headway’s if need be and do and there is plenty on U-Tube to verify that. The headway issue is a man of straw issue.

    Commercial speeds also include the number of stations per rt/km, the more stations, the slower the commercial speed; again another man of straw argument.

    As Mr. Cow stated, SkyTrain must travel more to carry the same loads as light rail, thus it wears out faster, needing more expensive repairs.

    As for the census figures, bad data in, bad data out as TransLink’s own numbers show that the share of commuters using cars has remained at 57%. As population rises, so does ridership. As well, TransLink also used boarding’s, which with the vast number of forced transfers on the transit system, boarding numbers are all but useless. Notice that TransLink does not release the number of unique use of the Compass Card, which would be a very good way ascertaining the actual number of people using the system.

    Mr. Burgess, talk to real experts, as I have, and you will soon see that SkyTrain was a bad choice, and continues to be a bad choice for transit. Again I repeat ad nauseum, only 7 SkyTrain type system sold in 40 years and only 3 seriously used for urban transport certainly tells the tale. No one wants the damn thing.

  10. Haveacow says:

    The original selling point for the Skytrain and the Scarborough RT Line to politicians was that, you could build less (and by association pay less) and move almost as many as a full scale Subway system. What the TTC really hated was the specialized maintenance equipment that no other system used. The realization that even with full automation, (something the TTC refused because of higher ancillary operating costs associated with it) the Scarborough RT would maybe move only 60% of what the subway system could move, this made the RT the ugly duckling of Toronto Transit. The special sized parts only added to the TTC’s costs and frustration! The fact that it often still has problems with freezing rain and snow, stoping the tiny little trains dead in their tracks was the proverbial cherry on top, of their frustration Sunday.

    The Broadway Skytrain extension will cost over $514 Million per km. That’s not much less than several planned Toronto subway extensions on a per km basis. The problem is that, the TTC’s subway with the current 60 year old signaling system, not the new system coming on line, will move at a minimum, double the passengers per hour per direction of the Skytrain. NO AMOUNT of ATC UPGRADES IS GOING TO CHANGE THAT! The physical station platforms, power systems, tracks, above grade track viaducts and signaling equipment of Skytrain need to be upgraded, If they ever plan to move more than 15,000 passengers/hour/direction!

    Don’t get me started on the amount of passengers the Broadway extension will most likely actually attract. Compared to how much TransLink thinks its going to attract.

  11. Haveacow says:

    The Confederation Line will actually have a starting minimum headway at peak of 3 minutes and 20 seconds as well as a day time maximum headway of 300 seconds or 5 minutes. Evening maximum headway is still 300 and late evening and night will be a maximum headway of 10 minutes or 600 seconds. After midnight it will be 15 minute maximum headways. This matches the current Transitway schedules!

  12. Haveacow says:

    To answer the cable cost question, I contacted a friend and he told me that, it depends on the type cable, capacity and or cable gauge as well as the ease of installation. If it’s easy to do, 10,000 km (that was an estimation on my part for a total of all types cabling needed) on a rail line could be as low as several million dollars or hundreds of millions of dollars if it is in a confined or hard to access location. He also pointed out that ripping out all the track first would make it a lot easier and cheaper. He has no idea how practical that would be, he isn’t a railway engineering specialist.

  13. zweisystem says:

    It is like Russian Hackers and Chinese money launderers are running the show.

    It is ver hard for the likes of Daryl and Bill to understand that the present stations are just two small to handle an increase in ridership at present. They do not understand that platform congestion reduces capacity.

  14. Bill Burgess says:

    Zwei is off the mark when suggesting that the Census numbers for Vancouver’s transit modal share are “garbage”.

    Both the Census and Translink household surveys are very reputable, but the survey size of the former is the 25% share of all households (see http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/ref/98-304/chap9-eng.cfm) while that of the latter is much less – 2.2% (see https://www.translink.ca/~/media/Documents/customer_info/translink_listens/customer_surveys/trip_diaries/2011%20Metro%20Vancouver%20Regional%20Trip%20Diary%20%20Analysis%20Report.ashx) .

    They also ask different questions – the Census survey focuses on journey to work, while the Translink survey asks about a range of trip types.

    However, Translink’s last survey was for 1991, while the Census has results for 2016. As previously commented on this blog (see http://www.railforthevalley.com/latest-news/zweisystem/is-the-car-winning-the-commuter-war/#respond ):

    ******
    The 2016 census data is now out (http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/171129/cg-c001-eng.htm).
    The main point is that a large majority of people continue to commute to work by car. The growth for transit, walking and biking is totally inadequate.
    But the secondary point of interest – for this blog – is that the Vancouver’ share of transit commuters increased far more than all other large metros in Canada between1996 and 2016. For the Vancouver CMA the increase was 42.6% compared to, for example Calgary’s 14.3% and Toronto ) metropolitan areas, 1996 and 2016, %
    2016 1996 % change
    Toronto 24.3 22 10.45
    Montréal 22.3 19.8 12.63
    Vancouver 20.4 14.3 42.66
    Ottawa–Gatineau 18.3 17 7.65
    Calgary 14.4 12.6 14.29
    Winnipeg 13.6 14.3 -4.90
    Edmonton 11.3 9 25.56
    Québec 11.1 9.2 20.65
    ******

    For 2016, the census reports that 20.4% of trips to work in Metro Vancouver are by transit, and 69.3% by car, truck or van driver or passenger (see https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/171129/t001c-eng.htm ) The equivalent numbers in 2011 were 19.7% and 70.8% (see https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/nhs-enm/2011/as-sa/99-012-x/2011003/tbl/tbl1a-eng.cfm ), so the transit share increased by 3.6% between 2011 and 2016.

    When Translink gets around to doing another survey I expect it will show a similar trend as the 2016 census data. And, yes, they should release the Compass Card data. They already do provide journey/trip data in addition to boarding data (see https://www.translink.ca/Plans-and-Projects/Accountability-Centre/Ridership.aspx ), and the two display similar trends.

  15. Haveacow says:

    After consulting with experts (well 2 friends of mine who both work for Thales, so I guess they are experts) they put the cost of redoing all the ATC on just the Expo line is between $360-$550 Million. remember @Bill Burgess, the costs you provided were only doing the core operating system and equipment at the OMC (Operations, Maintenance and Control Centre) site, not the whole system or even the whole Expo line. There are many km’s of cabling and signal towers and control modules to remove across the length of the line. It might be slightly cheaper, dropping $50-$75, if certain technologies were just upgraded instead of out right replaced by Translink. They had no idea how much of the cabling would have to be relaid and lets just say, my friend who got one of these cabling contracts is not talking to anyone yet until his re-engineering and relaying cost estimates are complete and made public by Translink! His assessment will guide Translink towards better more accurate and dependable cost estimates.

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