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Two new West Coast Express train cars are here!

Our two new West Coast Express train cars!

Two of our new West Coast Express (WCE) train cars are now here!

We have seven of these train cars on order for 2010, thanks to investment from the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia, as well as our own funding. The two new cars are the first to arrive, and were unveiled to the media today at the VIA Rail station near Main Street. (WCE cars are maintained at VIA Rail—we’re also currently investing in upgrades to their maintenance facilities.)

The new arrivals bump the West Coast Express fleet to 44 passenger cars, up from the current 37. That’s room for 2,000 riders a day, which translates into a 20 per cent increase in capacity—West Coast Express currently carries a daily average of 10,500 today, more than double its initial ridership of 5,000 a day.

The two cars here are currently undergoing testing, and we expect to put them into service in early September. The rest of the cars are still being made by Bombardier in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and are slated to arrive by the end of October and start service by the end of the year.

The new cars have some new improvements, including a new paint scheme (it’s blue instead of purple now), a revised bike area that provides more seating, and automatic doors to let you pass between train cars!

Check out this press release for more information, and see the rest of this post for more photos and video!

Dignitaries for the event arrived on the train to the event. Left to right: federal Minister of Transport Chuck Strahl, provincial Minister of Transportation Shirley Bond, TransLink executive vice-president Doug Kelsey, Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender (who chairs the TransLink Mayors Council), and Steve Hall from Bombardier Transportation.

Each dignitary gave a short speech.

A shot of the new train car exterior. #401 and #402 are the new train car numbers, by the way.

The upper seating area. The train had that new car smell :)

The new bike area is right inside the car doorway. The bench seat flips up, and the yellow straps can be used to tie your bike down to the train.

Since the bike area has been revised, there's now four more seats available for passengers, visible in the foreground of this photograph. (They're in their own little booths.)

The new automatic doors in between train cars!

I shot the video above to give you a rough idea of how the automatic doors work. Press the button to open the first door, and the second one will open afterward via motion sensor!

Also, because I'm a dork, I took a bunch of photos and stitched them into a panorama in Photoshop. Click for a MUCH larger version.

Another shot of the train's exterior.

The sticker on the new train car!

Here's the media interviewing Ministers Strahl and Bond after the event.

Unrelated, but also of interest: the TV show Human Target was filming in the park right outside the VIA Rail station during the event. There were a ton of props and extras around pretending to be in San Francisco, so here's a Golden Gate cab!

As well, this year marks West Coast Express’s fifteenth anniversary—they’ve been in service since November 1, 1995! Stay tuned for more info on how WCE is celebrating and how you can be involved :)


37 Comments

  • By Eric B, August 26, 2010 @ 4:25 pm

    I don’t think I saw anything here or in the press release, but will the new cars just be added on to the existing trains? Put another way: will there be a sixth scheduled train departure for WCE?

    Can’t wait to see what WCE has in store for its 15th anniversary!

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, August 26, 2010 @ 4:28 pm

    Eric: Sadly, no—as I understand it, the new cars are going to expand the current five-car trains into seven-car train sets. Correction: WCE has one four-car train, two seven-car trains, and two nine-car trains—the extra cars will simply extend out the shorter trains.

    So we’ll still have the five regular departures, just with more capacity. Adding more departures would actually require us to enter into negotiation with CP for more track time, I believe.

  • By Eric B, August 26, 2010 @ 4:34 pm

    Thanks for the quick reply! I knew there might be some operational issues with CP for additional departures.

    So is a seven-car train the maximum that can fit into station platforms?

  • By Daniel, August 26, 2010 @ 4:38 pm

    Oh your not a dork jhennifer! When these are testing, are they going to be running on the tracks on the line?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, August 26, 2010 @ 4:38 pm

    Eric: I believe it is—but I’m going to double check with WCE to be safe! Correction: Still checking with WCE for the official answer, but as far as I know, WCE has nine-car trains, which are the longest that can fit on the platforms. And even those nine-car trains hang a bit off the existing platforms on either end.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, August 26, 2010 @ 4:45 pm

    Daniel: Passing your question along for an answer…

  • By Ric, August 26, 2010 @ 5:54 pm

    Great to hear that there are new trains arriving. I can’t wait to ride on of these. It’s too bad that the new trains wouldn’t be able to extend the service to 6 WCE departures a day or allow the WCE to run in both directions during the day.

    Here are some questions about the new trains:

    1) Do the new trains have the 3D textured vinyl seats like the ones found on the new skytrains and buses?

    2) Can these trains be coupled together with the older WEC trains?

    3) Do these trains have LED or fluorescent lighting?

    4) Are these new trains going to to replace and retire some of the older trains?

    Btw, is that you pressing the door button in the video? Here is something that I wonder about. If the new trains have the new car smell, I wonder why new buses don’t.

  • By ericmk, August 26, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

    Those new train cars look great! In all but one picture (the second to last) the train colour looks purple instead of blue. Does it seem like that in real life?

  • By ;-), August 26, 2010 @ 7:09 pm

    With the additional cars, they may end up as “sleepers”…. that is they hang off the end of the platform, but you access them through the other cars…. The current platforms are already too short for the current train lengths.

    Love the automated door openers…. those train doors are heavy.

    After what happened with the “fast ferries”, perhaps Translink should get into the train and bus building business and build their own vehicles.

  • By Jim, August 26, 2010 @ 8:12 pm

    Hey Jhenifer,

    Great post and your not dork like at all on the contrary your very normal and with out you we wouldn’t all get these fabulous photo you take and post so if anything your doing a superb job and I am enjoying very much checking out all the pictures. Will you be doing a future post on the refurbishing of the WCE trains once that is under way? Would love to see the before and after and find out what they plan on doing to the train cars that are being refurbished.

  • By Tim, August 26, 2010 @ 9:43 pm

    The West Coast Express ridership is going to vaporize when riders transfer onto the SkyTrain at the new Evergreen Line in Coquitlam in 2014.

    The original cars were bought used from the Government of Ontario so I suppose these will end up replacing them, and the old cars eventually used for spares.

  • By Matthew Buchanan, August 26, 2010 @ 11:07 pm

    You’re not a dork Jhen, thanks for the pictures! I got off VIA’s Canadian on Monday morning and noticed them on the other platform, I thought they might be new as I didn’t see any dust on them! To me the blue/purple looked the same as the old cars.

    Tim: The original cars weren’t bought used from the Govt of Ontario, they were new from Bombardier.
    Ric: they are compatible with the old cars, They’re pretty much exactly the same.

  • By Elfren Ordanza, August 27, 2010 @ 6:35 am

    What an impression of the new West Coast Express cars.
    I can’t wait to ride in one of those new trains. :)
    When I first looked at them, I thought the paint scheme was the same until I read the part that the pain scheme is Blue instead of Purple. Nice new cars though.

  • By Elfren Ordanza, August 27, 2010 @ 6:40 am

    Jhennifer,
    Does the old West Coast Express cars have the automatic doors between the cars?

  • By rubai, August 27, 2010 @ 7:23 am

    thanks for the great pictures, jhen! :)

  • By JustMe, August 27, 2010 @ 8:13 am

    wow.. they look so shiny!

  • By Nick, August 27, 2010 @ 9:36 am

    what do you mean, 5-car sets? The train I take in the morning has 9 cars! I can’t imagine adding 2 more cars to this set, as it’s already far longer than the platform as it is.

    It would be so much nicer if they could’ve added another full train.. :(

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, August 27, 2010 @ 9:46 am

    Nick: oops, you are of course right. WCE has one four-car train, two seven-car trains, and two nine-car trains—the extra cars will extend out the shorter trains. My mistake! Edit: I’ve corrected the other comments I’ve made to this effect.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, August 27, 2010 @ 10:24 am

    Elfren: the old WCE cars do not have automatic doors between cars. They have a big handle you have to pull to open the doors.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, August 27, 2010 @ 5:12 pm

    Btw: thanks everyone for the kind words regarding my dork status :) Just a silly joke I was cracking at my own expense, since I spent far too long putting that panorama together.

  • By vfk, August 27, 2010 @ 7:05 pm

    I love panoramas…. it gives a better perspective of what’s avaialble. It’s so easy with Photoshop…. don’t hesistate to make more.

    http://share.gigapan.org/viewGigapan.php?id=32476

  • By Donald, August 28, 2010 @ 7:41 am

    @Tim Ever after the Evergreen Line opens, West Coast Express ridership will NOT vapourize. If anything it may even increase ridership east of Coquitlam.

    Coquitlam to Waterfront on West Coast Express: 30 minutes.
    Coquitlam to Waterfront via Skytrain: 44 minutes plus transfer time

    Most of the cars were purchased brand new from Bombardier, a few were leased from Florida before we bought it outright. For quite a number of years these cars had their original Florida paint scheme with the West Coast Express logo slapped on top of it before they got repainted to the West Coast Express paint scheme when we officially owned them.

  • By Donald, August 28, 2010 @ 7:44 am

    Oh and from what I heard, they were going to add a car to each of the sets. Just a rumour though. The 9-car train runs are also overcrowded with quite a few standees so lengthening them to 10-cars would mean they would overhang the other way. No biggie.

  • By Jacob, August 28, 2010 @ 9:56 am

    Actually Donald,
    Coquitlam center to Waterfront on West Coast Express: $6.75, 30 minutes.
    Coquitlam center to Waterfront via Skytrain: $5.00, >45 minutes
    Coquitlam center to Burrard on 190: $5.00, 25 minutes

    You see, the 190 can save you time and money.

  • By Eric B, August 28, 2010 @ 10:49 am

    @Jacob: Where do you get 25 min for the 190? The only westbound trip takes 55 min: http://www.translink.ca/~/media/Route_Files/66/timetables/tt190.ashx

    And I’m not sure how attractive SkyTrain would be from Coquitlam to downtown, regardless of travel time, if it requires a transfer at Lougheed (or Broadway/Commercial), when WCE/160/190 takes you there directly.

  • By fishbowl, August 31, 2010 @ 8:26 am

    donald: AFAIK the Florida cars were themselves GO Train castoffs, and were used only by WCE temporarily. They were incompatible with WCE cars so were confined to run alone on train W1/E5 which was three cars long. When the 3xx cars were delivered they left WCE property. My claim to fame was filling in a comment card regarding the awful pink end walls — within two weeks, WCE had applied blue vinyl to them to modernize the appearance. How’s that for customer service!

    Other tidbits – they had tinted windows for the Florida sun, something missing at 6am/6pm on a winter’s day here! Many times the train was late because the doors were jammed or similar, and if I recall correctly one car was unfit for service towards the end, leaving only a two-car train. When they went back, WCE held a celebration, amongst other things passengers received a ballpoint pen in the shape of a palm tree.

  • By Jacob, September 2, 2010 @ 10:20 am

    The 6:11 190 bus takes 45 minutes, and the time I took it, it was 15 minutes early!!!

  • By Elfren Ordanza, September 2, 2010 @ 6:40 pm

    Jhen,
    Will some of the new cars be connected to the old cars?

  • By mtn, September 13, 2010 @ 4:10 am

    Elfren: Answer is yes, rode train #4 in on Friday, and it had new cars #401 and 402 in the middle

  • By Donald, September 13, 2010 @ 12:28 pm

    @Jacob there is NO WAY the 190 can get from Coquitlam to Waterfront in 30 minutes. Everytime I’ve taken the 160(AM) and 190(PM) it takes a minimum 40 minutes in the AM toward from Port Moody to Vancouver and 50 minutes in the PM towards Port Moody. You may have travelled on an exception day… Once the 791 took less than 25 minutes to get from Pitt Meadows to Braid Station, about 20 minutes quicker than scheduled, but a feat that’s never been reproduced. On a good day the bus arrives on schedule, on a bad day the bus arrives 15 minutes late. 98% of the time the West Coast Express arrives as scheduled from Port Moody to Waterfront in 25 minutes.

    Anyway, it seems that trains #3 and #4 (AM and PM) have been lengthened from 9-cars to 11-cars.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, September 14, 2010 @ 9:42 am

    Yep: as MTN and Donald have indicated, the new cars are up and running now. West Coast Express has told me that the new cars are now added to the nine-car train sets to make two ten-car trains for now. As the rest of the cars come in, they’re planning to move things around and eventually all the trains will get a new car or two. But this will take some time though, as other work has to be done before they will all be in service.

  • By Donald, September 14, 2010 @ 3:19 pm

    Whoops yea my bad, they are 10-car not 11-car!

  • By Ric, September 20, 2010 @ 1:21 pm

    Is the West coast express automated like the skytrain or is there a driver?

  • By ;-), September 21, 2010 @ 12:46 am

    WCE’s have a driver…. trains that have pedestrians and vehicle crossings are best with a driver….

    http://www.vancouversun.com/Olympic+streetcar+hits+Jeep/2589015/story.html

  • By TheAverageJoe, October 5, 2010 @ 11:51 am

    The Tri Rail cars where never from GO transit but built to GO transit specs as the Flordia line was only to be in service during highway work but they ended up keeping the line in service. Reason why it was painted in GO like colours was in case they didnt keep the line up and the cars could be sold to GO

Other Links to this Post

  1. Anonymous — August 26, 2010 @ 4:28 pm

  2. The Buzzer blog » Happy 15th birthday, West Coast Express! — November 1, 2010 @ 1:40 pm

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