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Translink Buzzer Blog

SkyTrain weekend track maintenance starts Saturday, November 7

A heads up that SkyTrain will be replacing sections of running rail in the New Westminster area of the Expo Line over the next three weekends: November 7-8, 14-15, and 21-22.

The work will result in reduced train frequency and some delays east of Edmonds station.

A little background on the work

In the nearly 24 years since opening in 1986, the original Expo Line has seen close to three million trains (more than 10 million SkyTrain cars) travel over the tracks between Waterfront and New Westminster.

Sections of rail in the curve approaching New Westminster station are now due for replacement. Some additional sections will be modified to improve the ride quality in the curves between New Westminster and 22nd Street station. The work requires closure of one track at a time over a full weekend, from the end of service on Friday night, until the start of morning service on Monday.

What this means for you

So on the weekends of November 7-8, 14-15, and 21-22:

  • At 22nd Street station, and on some occasions at New Westminster, trains will operate in both directions from a single platform. SkyTrain staff will be on hand to provide direction.
  • Train frequency in the Edmonds-Columbia section will be reduced to every 16 to 18 minutes. Expo Line trains will wait for up to 7 minutes at one of: Edmonds, New Westminster, or Columbia.
  • Millennium Line trains from VCC-Clark will run every 7 to 9 minutes, and terminate at Columbia. Passengers to/from the Expo Line must change at either Columbia, or Commercial-Broadway.
  • Additional trains will operate between Waterfront and Edmonds, where both tracks remain in service. This will maintain near-normal frequency and capacity in the western half of the Expo Line.
  • Canada Line operation will not be affected.

Passengers travelling within or through the Edmonds – King George section should allow an additional 15 minutes for their trip. We will do our best to minimize delays and inconvenience.

As always, we ask our riders to watch for signs, listen to announcements, and follow the directions of SkyTrain staff. Thanks for your patience and cooperation as we continue to maintain your SkyTrain system!

Reminder: Dunsmuir tunnel maintenance continues until mid-December

And in the meantime, just a reminder that evening maintenance in the Dunsmuir tunnel continues most Monday through Friday evenings, through to December 11.

Service frequency between Waterfront and Stadium stations is reduced to every 12 minutes after about 9:45pm, although some exceptions apply during major events.


  • By zack, November 3, 2009 @ 10:54 am

    I know that it is mere impossible for the SkyTrain to fall over, but sometimes I get the jitters whenever the SkyTrain rattles like an earthquake on the track between New West and 22nd Street.=0
    Is TransLink going to fix that issue too?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, November 3, 2009 @ 10:55 am

    zack: I think that might have something to do with the rails, which is why the rail replacement is happening.

  • By Andrew S, November 3, 2009 @ 11:37 am

    I think it kind of depends on which car you’re riding too, because some Mark 1 cars are bumpy and loud the entire ride :(

  • By zack, November 3, 2009 @ 12:03 pm

    At least these MK1s sound better than the ones in Toronto. I remember at one time I was on the Scarborough RT and the MK1s over there had slightly the same acceleration sound as the SkyTrain. The only difference is that TTC Mark Is had terrible braking sounds and accelerate a little slower than the our Mark 1s.

  • By Andrew S, November 3, 2009 @ 12:23 pm

    Oh, i meant the loud from the bumpiness of the ride :P

  • By zack, November 3, 2009 @ 12:56 pm

    I know, I was just comparing :). In fact, the loudest ones seem to be the 1986 Mark Is especially when they’re squealing and rattling in the Dunsmuir Tunnel(ouch!).:( Not so much with the 95 Mark Is which seem to be have smoother rides than the 86 MK1s. While, their acceleration might sound unique but I think some of the MK1s have serious problems with their wheels.

  • By ;-), November 3, 2009 @ 1:44 pm

    Perhaps we should advise roller coaster enthuasists to check the line out before it’s gone.

    What happens to the old rails? Has there been any thought about cutting the rails up and selling the 6 inch chunks (eBay or the Metrotown office) to Skytrain enthusaists? I remember when they took down Woodwards, they raised a lot of money from the bricks.

    Are there others here interested in a little piece of Skytrain hertiage?

  • By Cliff, November 3, 2009 @ 1:55 pm

    If you’re at the beginning of one of those 18 minute waits at Edmonds, New Westminster, or Columbia you might be able to reduce your travel time slightly by transferring to the 106 or 112 and busing to the other side of the affected area.

    Last winter, just after you guys had that snowfall, I was able to save about 15 minutes by taking a 154 from Braid and getting off at 6th Street and taking the 106 over to Metrotown.

    And for those going to South Surrey and near 22nd Street Station, consider hoping on the 340 to Newton instead of taking the 321 out of Surrey Central Station.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, November 3, 2009 @ 2:10 pm

    ;-): Good question about the rails. I’ll see if someone can tell me where they are destined to go.

  • By zack, November 3, 2009 @ 2:27 pm

    Here’s a tip, if you’re headed downtown from Surrey, switch trains at Columbia destined for VCC/Clark on the Millennium line and get off at Commercial/Broadway then switch back to the Expo Line trains destined for Waterfront. It might look like a hassle but I think its worth it.
    Btw, this is only when the maintenance work is active.

  • By Andrew S, November 3, 2009 @ 4:48 pm

    zack: Haha, yup I agree too. I also noticed the *new!* Canada Line trains already squeak quite a bit on curves :O, (since w’re kind of on the topic of squeaking wheel/rail :) ) and I don’t really get why, since they’re so new :(.

    I wonder what the ride would feel like if all the “bumpy” wheels were relpaced :)

  • By zack, November 3, 2009 @ 5:39 pm

    Andrew S: I guess that gives the Canada Line more of a “subway-feel” doesn’t it? lol :D

  • By Andrew S, November 3, 2009 @ 7:11 pm

    zack: yea! It sure does! :)

  • By Cliff, November 3, 2009 @ 9:24 pm

    I remember reading in an Archie comic that Montreal’s metro has rubber wheels, thereby noise is at a minimum. I imagine it’s rather expensive to maintain but just imagine how snazzy our trains would be with rubber wheels!

  • By Brandon M, November 3, 2009 @ 9:37 pm

    I would to have a piece of SkyTrain heritage, that’s a great idea. I remember when I was a kid and hearing/feeling the rumble of the Mark I, my aunts always said that the train had square wheels. I hope the Mark I’s stay around for a long time to come, and if/when they retire, a few of them should be kept in a museum or something like that. Maybe one or two sets of each style.

  • By amc, November 3, 2009 @ 9:51 pm

    Cliff: The Montreal Metro system does have rubber wheels – it was modelled on the Paris Metro which has rubber wheels. It’s certainly a weird sight!

  • By David M, November 3, 2009 @ 10:12 pm

    Rail squeal on tight turns is normal on any railway when you have metal wheels on metal rails. It’s the flange rubbing against the side of the rail as the train takes the sharp turn. You’ll here this on the Toronto subway (just get a train from St. George to Museum on the Spadina Line and plug your ears, or leaving Union Station in either direction), on the Edmonton LRT especially on the curve from Churchill to Central stations – you can hear the squealing from the platform before the platform indicator advises of the approaching train.

    It should be a concern for the train operator because the squeal is an indication of wheel wear. If the squeal happens equally on both sides (i.e. the line has equal left and right tight turns, then the wear is fairly even. If not, then the operator will most likely turn the trains around every day or week to even out the wear on the wheels and reduce the maintenance requirements.

  • By ;-), November 3, 2009 @ 10:47 pm

    Imagine a 12 inch Gold, 6 inch Silver, and a 3 inch Bronze rail section trophy for our next Blog meetup games. Otherwise, what about a 1 inch paper weight for sale?

    If you click on my name link, you can see the Woodwards brick sales went to a community charity. Doing a quick Google, I see Translink employees support the United Way and a few other charities. This could be a fundraising opportunity.

    Then again, wasn’t Translink underfunded and looking for ways to make money to cover expansion plans? Imagine the tri-cities selling the rail sections to fund the Evergreen line!

    Don’t delay, own a piece of Skytrain today!

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, November 4, 2009 @ 10:18 am

    David M et al:
    SkyTrain’s maintenance shop has machinery to smooth the wheels down and keep them in the right shape, so the noise and the ride are OK. If a train is excessively noisy let them know via our customer relations form or tell a SkyTrain attendant — they can have a look and fix the wheels up if needed.

  • By Donald, November 4, 2009 @ 11:31 am

    Jhen, did they fix the inbound track at the curve just before Stadium Station? I noticed that trains no longer jerk there anymore.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, November 4, 2009 @ 11:53 am

    Donald: Not sure! They do periodically go out and adjust the rails so that may have taken care of any bumps you may have experienced. I’ll forward this on and see if there’s more to it.

  • By zack, November 4, 2009 @ 12:02 pm

    I’ve noticed some minor improvements in the Columbia Tunnel on the Millennium side there aren’t as much loud banging and echoes as there was before and trains run a little smoother now. Before then, the minute the Millennium line trains entered the tunnel they accelerated like crazy!!

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, November 4, 2009 @ 3:46 pm

    Donald: SkyTrain has said that they have done some work in the area suggested. Here’s their answer:

    We have done some work in that area with respect to the rail profile, as well as optimizing the train speed through that area, which has reduced the ‘jerk’ felt by customers riding through that area.

  • By Robert, November 5, 2009 @ 2:28 pm

    “Train frequency in the Edmonds-Columbia section…”: should that read “Train frequency in the Edmonds-King George section…”?

  • By Donald, November 5, 2009 @ 6:06 pm

    I knew it! The last couple of times I braced for that jerk to the left that never happened, good to know! Now if only they could speed up the section in front of the condos/Science World, there’s no debating that the Skytrain came before the condos. Maybe they can build a 2 meter high sound barrier on the east side of the guideway.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, November 6, 2009 @ 3:33 pm

    Robert: The wording in the post is correct — it’s only referring to travel between those three stations.

  • By Dave 2, November 6, 2009 @ 11:16 pm

    Now that you mention it, yes “The Whip”, after
    “The Dip” between Main and Stadium is no longer there…no more homage to the Roller Coaster that once occupied the site of GM Place

  • By ;-), July 8, 2010 @ 10:16 pm

    I wonder if Translink really missed the boat on not selling the old tracks…. Vanoc is making beaucoup money on its auction sites from its asset sales. Anyone want a piece of the Seawall…

    Here’s a thought…. in recent days we’ve heard GM Place has been rebranded, BC Place is getting one, and Science World has a new name to. I wonder if there are branding name opportunities for Translink assets to get more funding (possibly reduced fares). Anyone for the “Viagra train”?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, July 9, 2010 @ 10:14 am

    ;-): I’ve answered a question about sponsorship before in the TransLink forums, so hope you don’t mind that I reprint the same response! Here it is:

    You know, this is a great idea, and we actually seriously looked into this sort of sponsorship. The trouble is that we found there’s just not that much money in it.

    For example, check out this 2004 list showing how much it costs to buy the naming rights to a stadium.

    For GM Place, the revenue was listed at $844,366 per year — and that’s on a stadium that regularly gets onto national television. For a transit line (or a station) that doesn’t come close to that level of national exposure… the revenue probably wouldn’t even get that high.

    So that’s kind of where we’re at for now — we’re not against it, it’s just not exactly a significant source of revenue.

    (Also, during this current downturn, corporations aren’t doing a lot of sponsorship these days — the fireworks festival almost lost its footing this year. So altogether it’s not really a sustainable source of revenue over the long term.)

    Not a bad suggestion about selling old pieces of our infrastructure though: New York City’s transit museum does it with their old buses etc. As mentioned before, we are still working on getting a TransLink online store up and running, and I have sent the team the idea of selling retired parts of our system. Generally most people do think this is a good idea — so as the store develops, hopefully memorabilia of that nature will be included over time.

  • By ;-), July 9, 2010 @ 12:05 pm

    To keep things simple, just open a Translink store on eBay. All the commerce is handle there and if the item is rare, just let the market dictate it’s value.

    Vanoc did this.

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