Mayoralty Candidate, Doug McCallum Wants To Delay Rapid Transit In Surrey Until The Late 2030’s

Why do politicians always think they are transit geniuses?

Mostly because they are too stupid to understand the basics of transit planning and the application of modern public transit philosophy.

Doug McCallum is one, a former Surrey Mayor who was and still is completely out of touch with regional transit planning, now claims if elected, will cancel current current light rial planning and development in favour of SkyTrain.

Simple yes?

No. If McCallum does succeed, all he will achieve is delaying rapid transit in Surrey until the late 2030’s and by that time, Innovia ART will have passed long into the history books and planners will be dusting off the old LRT planning and restart the process.

Mr.Haveacow, a contributor to the blog has been very detailed about the problems and issues of switching from LRT to SkyTrain, so the following is just a recap of the many hurdles a Langley SkyTrain would face and with no cost estimate or budget, it will be the late 2013’s before Langley will be serviced with transit, which makes the Rail for the Valley/Leewood TramTrain plan more viable than ever.

A recent comment from Mr. Cow, who has studied our SkyTrain system and has for the past several years advised of the perils of extending SkyTrain to Langley. By switching from LRT to SkyTrain, it will delay rapid transit in Surrey/Langley until the mid to late 2030’s

They (TransLink) 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!

To recap, over $3 billion in unbudgeted costs need to be done in order to extend SkyTrain to Surrey!


5 Responses to “Mayoralty Candidate, Doug McCallum Wants To Delay Rapid Transit In Surrey Until The Late 2030’s”
  1. Haveacow says:

    What is really important here is something I mentioned before that, the federal portion of the money for capital spending on the Surrey LRT project is not transferable to another transit project due to the Federal PPP (Public, Private Partnership) program details. In fact, transferring the money could get Translink, the City of Surrey and the Federal Government sued by the many private contractors working with them on this project. These PPP funding agreements force private companies to get private funding from Banks and other Financial institutions. Those companies then get paid back in various prenegotiated stages as the work is completed. Those private companies and contractors went out and got private funding in good faith, suddenly changing the whole project means that there is no federal government funding component for the entire project. This means Translink, Surrey and the Federal Government get sued. The existing capital money can’t be used to cover the legal costs because they have broken the spirit and rules of the whole PPP program. Money for any new projects has to be applied and lobbied for. Translink would go to the back of the line behind many other existing applicants for capital funding for federal infrastructure money!

  2. Mambo says:

    Doug wants to extend skytrain to Langley. LRT is dead if he becomes mayor. It is funny you show a Flexity train made by Bombardier. The same company that built skytrain. Skytrain is excellent, fast, and popular.

    Zwei replies: SkyTrain is date, obsolete and actually liked by a very few.

    The SkyTrain Lobby wishes us to believe otherwise, but the fact is, SkyTrain will soon be out of production, then what?

    As I said, switch from LRT to SkyTrain, no transit for surrey for at least 20 years.

    By the way, Bombardier sells a hell of a lot of Flexity trams, yet no new SkyTrain in over a decade, think about it.

  3. Causa causans says:

    Dusted of some old transportation plans from the 1980’s with the Milan SkyTrain that was never built.

    Your SkyTrain did not meet European safety requirements and was generally considered poorly planned and equally poorly made.

    I have been told that it cost as much to maintain one SkyTrain car as one modern tram, if this is to believed, then your SkyTrain maintenance costs are extremely high as our trams have about 4 times the capacity!

    It still amuses us that so many people are in love with SkyTrain, a transit system both considered extremely expensive and dangerous to use.

  4. Haveacow says:

    There will be no Skytrain line to Langley because the federal infrastructure money for the LRT project isn’t transferable to another project because of the PPP (Public, Public Partnership) program that grants all federal transit dollars, makes that illegal! Whether you realized it or not, Translink has already accepting design/engineering tenders from interested consortia for the LRT design. Changing now means everyone involved on the Federal and Translink side of the competitive process can be sued for bad faith negotiating. I have been involved in one such lawsuit, it’s messy and the tax payers always get killed! The involved companies in each consortium are now going out and getting private loans and financing (a major responsibility in their requirements of the Federal PPP program) to take on all the expected building costs as well as all legal liability costs for the project(which can add up to 25% of the entire project’s cost). If a politician or a group of them tries to change the project scope now, wow, watch the lawsuits fly!

  5. Haveacow says:

    @Mambo, according to Bombardier’s figures since the late 1998, they have sold 3000+ Flexity LRV models on 6 continents with 800+ more still on order. In 42 years, Bombardier, SNC Lavilin and Ontario’s Urban Transit Development Corporation (Skytrain’s 3 owners) have built 715 lnnovia Automated Light Metro Transportation System vehicles (Bombardier’s current marketing name for the Skytrain technology) and have only 124 more on order, with no more expected for years after, once Vancouver’s present orders are filled! Kuala Lumpur’s current Skytrain order will be complete by the end of this year or early next year. They won’t be ordering more for a long time!

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