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Downtown SkyTrain riders, look out: late-evening maintenance work in SkyTrain’s Dunsmuir Tunnel runs July 13-24

Ride SkyTrain in downtown Vancouver late at night? Watch out — for two weeks starting July 13, SkyTrain will start the first stage of work in the Dunsmuir tunnel, to address water seepage and related drainage issues.

The lower level of the tunnel (the “eastbound” track) will close early to allow work crews in at 10 p.m., with more work planned for fall—the work requires more time than available in the limited nightly system closure hours.

Here’s a bit of background: The major part of SkyTrain’s underground section in downtown Vancouver uses the Dunsmuir Tunnel built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1932, linking the transcontinental railway terminus (Waterfront Station) to the previous freight yards and maintenance shops in False Creek – now a distant memory save for the Roundhouse centre in Yaletown.

Groundwater leaching through the tunnel walls contains natural minerals which accelerate corrosion of track components, as well as creating slippery conditions for maintenance crews and emergency passenger evacuation routes.

Shuttle train to be used between Stadium and Waterfront

The following service changes are in effect Monday to Friday, July 13 to July 24, from about 9:45 p.m. to the end of the service day:

  • All Expo and Millennium Line trains from the east will terminate at Stadium Station, at the normal service frequency (8 minutes each; combined 4 minutes between Columbia and Stadium);
  • A single train shuttle will operate every 12 minutes on the normally “westbound” track between Stadium and Waterfront, stopping at Granville and Burrard in both directions.
  • All passengers must change trains at Stadium Station. Passengers can expect a two to 10 minute wait at Stadium, depending on their arrival time and travel direction.

Exceptions for the fireworks festival and B.C. Lions game

  • On Wed July 22nd there will be no work due to Celebration of Light (SkyTrain will run full “rush hour” service throughout the evening to accommodate the thousands of fireworks spectators).
  • On Fri July 24, maintenance will start 90 minutes later due to the B.C. Lions game at B.C. Place (SkyTrain will provide frequent extra service for Lions fans, as usual; shuttle operation will start at 11:15pm).

Additional SkyTrain staff will be on hand at affected stations to provide directions and assistance. We thank you for your patience and cooperation as we keep our system in good repair for your overall service.


22 Comments

  • By ;-), July 7, 2009 @ 2:39 pm

    While not the Olympics, the World Police and Firefighter games will be ramping up shortly after the 24th. I expect Skytrain evening usage will be very high combined with the Celebration of Lights and Pride events on that last July week going into August.

    It’s a good thing this is happening in the evening and prior to the crunch.

  • By Kin Lo, July 8, 2009 @ 1:57 pm

    Jhenifer, when you mean about a shuttle train,is it just a regular Skytrain or a different train?

    P.S. Maybe you could use the new Mark II Skytrain(s) for the ‘shuttle’ train.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, July 8, 2009 @ 2:36 pm

    The shuttle will be a regular SkyTrain. It just means that the train will only travel between Stadium and Waterfront, turning it into a “shuttle” and not a regular Expo/Millennium Line train. I will leave it to the infinite wisdom of SkyTrain to see what type of train they choose to use as the shuttle :)

  • By David, July 8, 2009 @ 3:28 pm

    Every 12 minutes seems a tad long for a trip that only takes 4 minutes including stops at Burrard and Granville. I’m expecting them to use a 4-car Mark I because every time I’ve ridden a shuttle it’s been that type and because all the 4-car Mark IIs get taken out of service long before 10PM. Hopefully they’ll surprise me and park one of the big trains on the spare track at Waterfront in anticipation of needing it later.

  • By Ian S., July 8, 2009 @ 4:15 pm

    Is there any indication within the SkyTrain tunnel of where the unused portion of the Dunsmuir Tunnel branches off toward the old CP yards/Expo site? It would be fairly close to Stadium station. The sealed-off mouth of the old tunnel is still visible by looking down from the north side of the Georgia Viaduct just east of Beatty Street, but it won’t be for much longer, because an apartment tower is planned to be built over that site.

  • By ;-), July 8, 2009 @ 6:03 pm

    I just found a picture of that East tunnel section by Costco. Click on my name to see it.

  • By ;-), July 8, 2009 @ 6:16 pm

    I think I found a picture of the waterfront opening. Click on my name to see it.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, July 9, 2009 @ 9:42 am

    Those photos are neat! Do you know where the exact locations are?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, July 9, 2009 @ 9:42 am

    PS: Ian, I have asked about the tunnel. Still waiting back on an answer.

  • By Robert, July 9, 2009 @ 11:04 am

    Best guess, from an outbound perspective, would be where the present tunnel veers to the left before the right curve into Stadium Station. From the inbound track one can still see the arching ceiling for the old tunnel section; suspect the newer section will have a slightly different ceiling profile.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, July 9, 2009 @ 11:26 am

    I wonder if there’s a map of the 1937 tunnel route that we could overlay on the SkyTrain route. That would give us a good indication of where they intersect.

  • By Ian S., July 9, 2009 @ 12:44 pm

    The tunnel portal near the waterfront is at the foot of Thurlow Street. It’s now hidden by the extension of Cordova Street that was added a few years ago for access to the various new buildings in that area. There is a ramp down from Cordova to reach the waterfront road. The portal is just south of the bottom of the ramp. CPR called this the east portal (even though it is geographically west of the other portal) because all its landmarks and mileages are measured from the east. A train coming west along Burrard Inlet and then continuing on to the False Creek yards would encounter this portal first, hence it was the easternmost in railway terms.

    The west portal is just east of Beatty Street and can be viewed from the Georgia Viaduct, for now.

    I’ll see if I can dig up a map.

  • By ;-), July 9, 2009 @ 1:07 pm

    Here’s a map of the Beatty Street location. I last saw it walking to GM Place on the Georgia Viaduct, looking down once past the Armory on the North sidewalk.

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=49.278529,-123.111725&daddr=&hl=en&geocode=&mra=mi&mrsp=0&sz=18&sll=49.278434,-123.111522&sspn=0.002621,0.005676&ie=UTF8&ll=49.27834,-123.111527&spn=0.005242,0.011351&t=h&z=17

    I thought after Costco went up, it would not be visible any more.

  • By Ian S., July 10, 2009 @ 1:31 am

    I couldn’t find a detailed map that shows the Dunsmuir Tunnel in relation to the street grid, but the point where the SkyTrain tunnel diverges is at or near the intersection of Dunsmuir and Hamilton streets. The CPR tunnel curves away to the southeast from there, crossing the current site of the Queen Elizabeth Playhouse (the rumble of trains could be heard from inside the theatre, according to a friend) and then the old site of the Vancouver intercity bus station between Cambie and Beatty streets before emerging just north of Georgia. The last CP train ran through the original tunnel on August 16, 1982.

    The reason for not using the entire Dunsmuir Tunnel was that its exit was too close to BC Place Stadium to allow the SkyTrain line to curve away on to a straight alignment toward the east end of False Creek. That will be obvious from looking at the tunnel portal today.

    A publicity newsletter for the original SkyTrain project says the point where the new SkyTrain tunnel and the original Dunsmuir tunnel meet is 185 metres west of the entrance to the SkyTrain tunnel at Stadium station.

  • By Kenneth T., July 10, 2009 @ 10:56 pm

    I wonder if they’ll use the new train combined with an old one as a shuttle…never hurts to imagine…

  • By Alex, July 12, 2009 @ 10:20 pm

    Does anyone know the track on the right after Waterfront heading westbound? Maybe it’s the opening that ;-) photo had and Skytrain connected that back up to the Eastbound track?

  • By Ian S., July 20, 2009 @ 6:18 pm

    The apartment tower that will eventually block the remaining view of the old Dunsmuir Tunnel portal near Georgia and Beatty was featured on the front page of the Vancouver Sun’s New Homes section on Saturday, July 18. One of the amenities of the tower, to be named Cosmo, will be a two-lane bowling alley. Now that would require a long straight space — hmmmm!

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, July 20, 2009 @ 6:34 pm

    That’s hilarious :)

  • By Dennis, October 28, 2010 @ 8:24 pm

    Digging up an old post, but the portal near BC Place has now been removed for the construction. Now it looks like this:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/dennistt/5102342995/

    :(

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, October 29, 2010 @ 9:49 am

    Dennis: Aw! Is that an apartment tower going up, the one that Ian S mentioned above?

  • By Dennis, November 9, 2010 @ 12:36 am

    Yep that’s the construction for the tower mentioned above.

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