SkyTrain Incidents – A Most Curious Article

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It is interesting what is not reported.

It seems, Postmedia did not report how many people were killed by SkyTrain in 2016, nor did they report if no one was killed.

Several incidents were recorded, but nothing really newsworthy.

Much is made of colliding trains, but the comment “Bryan said that SkyTrain, launched for Expo 86, has never had a collision involving two in-service trains, a record that is “unheard of ” in the industry for a long-running system.” is way too self indulgent. I don’t think London’s Victoria Line, opened in 1968, has ever had a collision either, being the first automatic metro in the world; or any other of the major metro that operate around the world.

This so called news item is nothing more than Postmedia’s poor attempt to accurately report on TransLink and SkyTrain, while not reporting very much at all.


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A TransLink worker at a SkyTrain station – Date unknown Richard Lam.
15 May 2017
SkyTrain Incidents

Vancouver British Columbia – The list of SkyTrain “incidents” last year included a drunk who bounced off a moving train, a scooter and wheelchair that accidentally fell onto the tracks, a passenger who tempted fate to retrieve a cell phone, and maintenance workers scrambling to avoid being run over, according to documents obtained through freedom of information requests.

The documents, obtained by Postmedia from the B.C. Safety Authority, describe an incident on 28 Oct 2016 in which a technician and his partner entered the track area to perform maintenance.

“Moments later, the technicians realized a train was about to enter the station, so they jumped clear onto the centre walkway clear of the guideway,” the documents state.

SkyTrain, which includes the Canada Line, is a fully automated driverless system with technology designed to stop the trains in the event of an intrusion onto the tracks, be it a person or an object such as a backpack.

“The intrusion alarms are definitely a core part of the safety of our system,” TransLink spokesman Chris Bryan said on Monday.

Bryan said that SkyTrain, launched for Expo 86, has never had a collision involving two in-service trains, a record that is “unheard of ” in the industry for a long-running system.

A person on a motorized scooter accidentally drove onto the tracks at Joyce Station injuring himself on 19 Aug 2016.

Fortunately, no trains were present.

On 24 Jul 2016 a vandal placed a “five-gallon” can of paint on the tracks near Edmonds station.

“The paint was drawn into the motor, disabling the train.”

A drunk stumbled into a departing train and fell onto the platform on 22 Jul 2016, resulting in a minor head injury.

On 1 Jun 2016 a trespasser fleeing Transit Police ran down the tracks and “jumped from the concourse to the ground below.”

The person was taken away by ambulance with significant injuries.

On 20 Feb 2016 a man jumped onto the tracks to retrieve his cell phone when the train was in the station.

As the train started to leave, the man managed to “press himself against wall to avoid contact” and left the area safely.

A man was walking on the platform too close to a departing train and hit his hand on 2 Feb 2016.

He was taken to hospital.

On 28 Jan 2016 a six-car train was proceeding into a storage lane, when one car derailed due to the switch points under the train being reversed.

One day earlier, a wheelchair accidentally fell onto the tracks with no injuries or damage.

There were several incidents last year involving a “rail grinder”, which is used to maintain the smoothness of the tracks to increase their lifespan and to reduce noise.

The cases include a 13 Sep 2016 derailment due to a switch being improperly aligned, and damage to a section of track on 15 Sep 2016 when the rail grinder stones did not retract prior to stopping.

On 21 Dec 2016 a train under tow crashed into an unsecured gate, damaging both, and on 26 Nov 2016 a train struck a piece of handrail, causing damage to the train and a piece of metal to fall onto a car parked below.

Several of these incidents may have resulted in train delays, although the public would not have been apprised of the actual reasons at the time.

Larry Pynn.


3 Responses to “SkyTrain Incidents – A Most Curious Article”
  1. eric chris says:

    Ottawa is coming out with a low cost transit fare. I’ve always been of the opinion that public transit is already paid for through property taxes and any fare is not fair. I’d like to see free public transit for everyone. When the fire department shows up to put out a fire, it doesn’t ask for $5 before it will put out the fire.

    Anyway, does anyone know when TransLink is going to release the revenue passenger trips for 2016? When does Ottawa release data for revenue passenger trips?

    Six months seems like a long time to compile the data on revenue passenger trips. From what I see, the population keeps growing in Metro Vancouver and the number of revenue passenger trips seems to have plateaued since 2012 at about 238 million annual trips by revenue passengers (about 330,000 people taking transit on average based on two trips daily). This suggests that more people are driving and public transit use is dropping. We’ll have to wait for the data to confirm.

  2. Anonymoose says:

    TransLink 2016 numbers were released in late jan

  3. Haveacow says:

    One of the strange thing’s about Ottawa’s (O.C. Transpo) passenger numbers are that you really have to search for them, their is no set date. One of the frustrating things about our transit company is that they hold on to there data as tight as the US Military holds on to their sonar data and submarine technology, You can get it but its usually easiest through a third party like the Ontario Government and or CUTA’s Ontario Transit Handbook. You can get really basic data from 2015 on their website and if you go through their quarterly or yearly reports, you can pick up other stuff but the easiest way is either yell and beg to get a media information package or I usually wait for the Ontario Transit Handbook to come out. It’s extensive, detailed and made for professionals and displayed that way. The APTA yearly handbook is another source but I don’t like it because they use boardings not linked trips and don’t bother to show more than the most basic system data.

    Eric I understand your frustration about wanting transit to be free but its just not realistic. The budget hole that fares fill up are so large that most North American municipal organizations would have to seriously cut back their existing services by 40-60 % just to attempt to make transit free. Plus especially here in North America we have this idiotic belief that transport systems should not only pay for themselves but also be profitable, again a belief that you constantly see and here about but not at all realistic. Roads are massively subsidized and most of them even busy ones never return a profit when people have bothered to look at the data. Here in Ontario we finally made new major road projects pass the same business case report structure that rapid transit projects have had to endure for decades. Guess what, 90% of all major road projects fail this simple planning step. One of my biggest consulting gigs lately is teaching traffic engineers how to design roads so they pass that part of the process.

    Long distance Marine, Air and Rail transport require governments to maintain large support infrastructures especially air travel. Even in the days when rail was king here in North America most passenger rail services failed to make money through selling tickets. Most not all. All passenger trains in North America used to have at the least one baggage car carrying business and mail packages to the destination city. That’s why most cities main railway station also had a baggage express and mail sorting facilities. Each passenger train also had a mail sorting car for the national postal services. When the railways lost the mail and package services to trucking in the 50′s,60′s and early 70′s, that’s when passenger rail began to really collapse here.

    Even regional rail mostly collapsed and only survives in areas where the lines were historically most profitable, even to this day. Toronto to Montreal always made money and still does for VIA Rail, Ottawa to Toronto and Ottawa to Montreal generally broke even as does the service today for VIA Rail. Montreal to Quebec City could break even and even made a profit sometimes butt most of the time its a run that only covers about 90% of its costs just like today. That’s why GO Transit’s RER (Regional Express Rail) plan is a big deal as not just an improvement for the business day commuter rail traveler in Southern Ontario but to the all day regional rail traveler in Southern Ontario.

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