Mr. Cow Pegs It. Expo Line Extension Will Cost $3.2 billion

I am continually amazed that an area like the lower mainland of BC, an area that claims to be so high tech, yet can’t get its head around the simplicity of a regional rail line using already available track.

Yet, will spend billions and you guys will be spending billions ($2.9-$3.2 Billion by current estimates) , on a poorly thought out rapid transit line to Langley.

Haveacow, in a comment on July 15, 2019


When one deals with experts, one gets expert answers and when one deals with amateurs … well we know the answer.


Surrey-Langley SkyTrain would cost nearly twice as much as light rail option

by Taran Parmar

Posted Jul 19, 2019

NEW WESTMINSTER (NEWS 1130) – A Surrey to Langley SkyTrain would cost significantly more than funding available, TransLink says.

Updated numbers from the transit authority show the project would cost $3.12-billion, when there is only $1.6-billion available.

Given that figure, TransLink has proposed other options that could potentially fit the budget instead of the original plan.


I can now hear the shrill cries of “shock and disbelief from the SkyTrain camp and guess what, we can go from Vancouver to Chilliwack for the same cost as LRT to Langley.


7 Responses to “Mr. Cow Pegs It. Expo Line Extension Will Cost $3.2 billion”
  1. Haveacow says:

    The laurels and huras are greatly appreciated. It’s primarily a bit of experience and a lot of math. Thank You anyway!

    However to be fair, given today’s costs, the budget for a functional regional rail line is around $1.8 -$3.05 Billion, not $1.2 Billion! The wide variations in cost are due to the huge number of possible operating scenarios that could be accomplished.

    First negotiations with the railways must occur, you will be paying them a yearly leasing fee, or rent. However, unlike what Translink believes, if you approach It seriously and honestly, the negotiations won’t be that bad. I don’t know about the Southern Railway of BC but CP will negotiate as long as you are serious and realistic about operations on their track. We had to do the same thing in Ottawa to start the original O-Train program back in 2001. IT IS POSSIBLE!

    Like I said earlier, there is a wide variation in costs due to the huge number of operating scenarios possible. Using my figures here is what the highest cost end $3.05 Billion will give you.

    1. 99+ km of operations all the way to Chiliwack.

    2. All laid with continuously welded rail. A separate signaling system is included but be warned, due go federal safety requirements your signal system will be “slaved” to the existing federal CTC rail traffic control system!

    3. 35 – 40 km of double track right of way and the rest (59 km+) medium to high quality single track right of way. The track will be able go handle passenger operations up to 110 km per hour. It is unlikely your trains will ever go that fast because of the time and distance between stations and the abuse on the trains themselves.

    4. All stations will be double tracked so that, each station can be used as a passing track on the single tracked portion of the right of way.

    5. Up to 12km of single track freight by-passes were temporal separation of passenger and freight consists are not physically, operationally and or legally possible.

    6. One new Operations, Storage and Maintenance facility for 16 to 20 large multiple unit vehicles. Storage will be in a semi open walled but covered storage shed.

    7. Each double tracked swithtation will have 2, 80 metre long, semi-high passenger platforms and ancillary waiting areas. These stations will have basic transit shelters with electrically heated areas for cold weather. They will be fully wheelchair and non sighted safety and movement compliant. Commuter parking lots will be budgeted based on each station’s individual design, property characteristics and cost, a standard size lot and number of parkkng spots, cannot be guaranteed.

    8. 14 to 16 Stadler FLIRT modular DMU’s/EMU’s. These vehicles are 81 metres long with a replaceable central power unit so different drive technologies can be added as newer, cleaner or more efficient drive technologies become available. These vehicles were chosen due to availability and that they are fully F.R.A. compliant meaning vehicle testing time and safety requirement compliance testing time will be minimised. The trains can sit up to 260 passengers and allow up to 140 standing passengers for a crush capacity of 400 passengers per vehicle. This is heavily dependent on chosen seating configuration.

    9. This fleet will allow a maximum operating frequency of one train every 12 minutes during peak and one train every 15 minutes off peak over the entire length of the line.

  2. Haveacow says:

    This is what happens when you type at 5:30 am in the morning, after your 10 year old wakes you up.

    Zwei could you fix point number 3, It should read, “The track will be able to handle”. My pad must have had a logic burp because point number 7 has something I didn’t type or I had my own Trump like, “Cofefe” moment, it should read, “Each double tracked station “.


  3. Haveacow says:

    It happened again, point number 2 has go instead of to, that should read,”due to federal safety requirements”.


  4. Emily says:

    Doesn’t the Expo line need about 1.5 billion to upgrade or refurbish soon?

    Zwei replies: More like $2 to $3 billion. The Canada line needs $1.5 billion to expand capacity beyond 9,000 pphpd.

  5. Bill Burgess says:

    14-16 DMUs that are 81 ft long and carry 400 passengers (crush load) @12 minutes frequency (peak) – what is that capacity expressed in pphpd?

    Is the key limiting factor on frequency the length of single track?

    Zwei replies: do not make the mistake of equating capacity with ridership. Building SkyTrain to Langley would entail a hell of a lot of spare capacity as the demand on that route is very slim. All those trains operating as such close headway’s, carrying few passengers costs a lot of money over time.

    There is now a persistent rumour that every third train will continue to Langley because the ridership is not there to justify a full service, as well it reduces the need for cars.

    This means we are spending over $3 billion to operate trains every 6 to 10 minutes over 17 km. Not very cost effective.

    Valley rail will offer the same sort of capacity at a fraction of the cost over a 100 km route.

  6. Bill Burgess says:


    My question was how to express Mr Cow’s numbers for the regional rail proposal in pphpd.

    Nothing to do with Skytrain!

    Zwei replies: Actually it does, but it would be much to long to explain. Capacity is a much over used term which I am guilty of using also, what should be looked at is demand. Because the demand largely influences what type of transit is to be used, except for Metro Vancouver of course.

  7. Haveacow says:

    @Bill Burgess, 81 metres not feet (about 270 feet). A little longer than a Skytrain station

    Most of Ottawa’s Trillium Line is singled track with 3 passing tracks and we could do as low as 6 minutes but currently have 10-12 minute frequency at peak. It really depends on the number of passing tracks and their physical placement in the run of the ljne.

    I could give you an number but it wouldn’t be close to accurate. Capacity of a line also depends on the passenger turnover or average trip length. Which I don’t know yet. The number of seats per vehicle is effectively lowered or raised if a seat or standing room space on the train is occupied or unoccupied because the passenger left the train. The way most people calculate capacity is incorrect because it assumes no one leaves the train over a perood of an hour. Whether they realize it or not, most passengers don’t stay on for an hour, so you need to know seat and standing space turnover over the length of an hour.

    You also need to know the safety limit on frequency. I see many people try and say that a Skytrain can run at 75 second frequencies which would be highly dangerous when you consider, the time it takes a Skytrain to decelerate from the lower edge of the systems cruising speed range, the dwell time when the Skytrain has stopped at the station and the amount of time the train takes to accelerate back to the lower end of the cruising speed range. Currently, the Skytrain is operating at its maximum frequency at peak (110 seconds) that it can safely and legally handle, with its current signaling, data communications equipment and acceleration/braking rate. Unfortunately, Skytrain’s current acceleration/braking rate is very poor compared to other similar sized and weighted equipment because of abundance of power in the newer standard electric “Can” motors vs. its Linear Induction Motors. 1.34 metres per second squared on most Light Rail Vehicles compared to 1.1 metres per second squared on the newest Skytrain models. Even much heavier DMU ‘s or EMU’s range between 1.05 to 1.2 metres per second squared.

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