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A SkyTrain map with historical notes and more!

A detail from David's Metro Vancouver rail diagram, featuring historical notes and milestones in one handy map!

A detail from David's Metro Vancouver rail diagram, featuring historical notes and milestones in one handy map!

David M, a longtime Buzzer blog reader and transit enthusiast, has put together an unofficial diagram of Metro Vancouver rail, with many annotations describing its history and more. Both he and I thought you would enjoy seeing it! Grab the full map here (2.8MB, PNG, 4617×2357).


  • By Matt, May 20, 2010 @ 11:29 am

    He has the Olympic Line, however he’s missing the Downtown Historic Railway which was a significant transit link between Science World and Granville Island on weekends (and will be again between Cambie Street and Granville Island in a few weeks).

  • By ben K, May 20, 2010 @ 11:39 am

    This map is awesome; great work, David!

    Poring over this reminds me of my fascination with the NYC subway system following my first visit there ten years ago, and subsequent excitement in researching historical and technical maps (e.g.


  • By ;-), May 20, 2010 @ 11:47 am

    Love this.

    I notice the Olympic Line was included. If there is an opportunity the street car could be added as well. I remember the excitement when it was extended to Science World, how it was incorporated into the Molson Indy Circuit and then interrupted by the athlete’s village.

  • By Sewing, May 20, 2010 @ 2:00 pm

    Great map!

    ;-): To compensate for the temporary loss of the east half of the Downtown Historic Railway, the redeveloped 1st Avenue (from Cambie to Quebec) has a wide centre median that is designed expressly for streetcar tracks, so they can run down the middle of the road on a dedicated right-of-way, European-style.

  • By Dan T, May 20, 2010 @ 4:41 pm

    I know it’s just speculation, but I really hope that the Evergreen-Millenium exchange at Lougheed won’t involve flyovers like the one he has postulated in the diagram…

    Other than that, I love this diagram, I never truly appreciated the actual distances between the stations before, nor actually realized just how many switches there are along the way.

  • By Jack, May 20, 2010 @ 5:54 pm

    Random question,

    Would turnstiles solve a large amount of Translink’s funding problem? Would perhaps SkyTrain benifit from being partially privatized like the Canada line in order to pay for extensions?
    It’s wonderful to see maps like above, however it concerns me greatly as a born and raised Vancouverite that these systems could be shut down or extensions will never become possible because we cannot Translink seems to have a money problem. Taxes only go so far…?

  • By Ian S., May 20, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

    @ Dan T. The map does not postulate a flyover at Lougheed. The junction layout there is already in place — it was built as part of the Millennium Line project so as to avoid disruption to M-Line services once construction begins. The guideway stubs for the extension are readily visible from the bus interchange at Lougheed.

  • By Ian S., May 20, 2010 @ 6:06 pm

    Great work, David. I recognize the map style as that of the excellent Quail series of maps of British Railways and the London Underground.

    Not to nit-pick, but there are a few small changes/updates you might want to make:

    SelTrac is no longer owned by Alcatel. That part of Alcatel’s business was bought several years ago by another French firm, named Thales.

    Millennium is spelled with double ‘n’.

    In some places, you have spelled SkyTrain without a capital T.

  • By Ric, May 20, 2010 @ 7:37 pm

    Nice work, David.

  • By Joey Connick, May 20, 2010 @ 8:39 pm

    @Jack: Turnstiles would definitely not solve any funding problems for TransLink–the amount of money they lose to fare evasion on SkyTrain, by their own studies, is something ridiculously small that doesn’t really warrant the cost of retrofitting all the stations… all the agitation for turnstiles is more about class and purported “safety” than it is about capturing lost funds.

    Privatization is an AWFUL solution to public transit, as we all saw with the decimation of Cambie Street given the shell-game switchover to cut-and-cover tunnels. PPPs allow companies to reap all or most of the profit with the taxpayers and governments taking on all or most of the risk. Proper, ongoing, calculated to take into account inflation funding by all 3 levels of government, especially provincial and federal is the way to go.

  • By Bill Kinkaid, May 20, 2010 @ 10:27 pm

    Just to pick some nits regarding the definition of what stations are elevated, ground level and underground:

    Waterfront (Expo-Millennium Lines) is actually at grade, at the bottom of the escarpment from the Cordova St entrance.

    Columbia is enclosed but isn’t it actually at grade?

    Commercial-Broadway (Millennium Line) is in the Grandview Cut so is not exactly what I’d call elevated, except in the sense that it’s higher than the base of the cut. So it could be described as being below ground and above ground at the same time?

    Stadium, of course, is both elevated and underground, depending on which end of the platform you’re at. As far as I know, it may be unique in the world in that you go up to get to the trains at one end and you go down to get to the trains at the other!

    Otherwise a great map. Is there a jpg or pdf version?

  • By Ian S., May 20, 2010 @ 11:42 pm

    @ Dan T. My apologies, the map does indeed postulate a flyover east of Lougheed. But FWIW, the elaborate booklet produced by the Evergreen Line project includes detailed artist’s conceptions of much of the route, including the set-up at Lougheed, and there is definitely no flyover junction there. It shows the guideway arcing above the White Spot as it curves north onto North Road — both tracks are at the same level.

  • By Ian S., May 20, 2010 @ 11:47 pm

    @Bill Kinkaid. When the Millennium Line was being built, the project literature described the section through the Grandview Cut as being at grade. That struck me as odd, but the rationale would appear to be that the guideway was sitting on terra firma instead of being elevated by a man-made structure. By that logic, the M-Line station at Commercial is at grade.

  • By Hilary, May 21, 2010 @ 5:17 am

    I think he has the description of the Evergreen Line backwards, chronologically. From what I’ve read, it was planned as a “finger” of the Millennium Line extending into Coquitlam that was cut from actual construction in order to save money (and they put in the 97 B-Line to take up some of the slack). After the rest of the Millennium Line was built, there was some deliberation about what to use for that route, and plans to make it a tram line were in the works (in 2004) before they changed their minds again and decided it’d be a SkyTrain line after all (in 2008). But everything I’ve seen from after the M-Line was constructed has referred to the Evergreen Line as a separate line (which meets up with the Millennium Line at Lougheed in the same way the Millennium Line meets up with the Expo Line at Columbia) rather than a branch of the Millennium Line.

  • By David M, May 21, 2010 @ 8:48 am

    Thanks for all of the feedback.

    Deciding whether to include Waterfront underground or at grade was a decision I made based on how it feels when you use it. I agree it is technically at grade, but has been largely built over.

    Columbia is really underground with a skylight due to the topography.

    Stadium is elevated but enters a tunnel to the west

    Commercial drive platforms are also elevated, well above the rail line below.

    The flyover junction at Lougheed for Evergreen was the original plan. I understand this may have changed to a cross-over, but I haven’t seen any final drawings of that yet – just concepts. I’ll probably change it when construction begins and the design is final.

    I could include the downtown heritage streetcar, but it isn’t part of the transit network.

    And yes it is based on Quail maps diagrams for UK railways.

  • By Sewing, May 21, 2010 @ 11:11 am

    Yes, Columbia is underground. It’s deceptive because of the steep grade of the land at that point, and because the south side of the station opens onto a courtyard/parking lot—but that is actually a depressed area below the level of 4th Street, which it is separated from by a retaining wall. The tracks are dug under the block between 4th Street on the east and 6th street on the west.

    And the section of the Millennium Line inside the Grandview Cut is indeed elevated, even though again, it’s deceptive. From Nanaimo Street to Commercial Drive, it’s running on a foundation of sorts that’s built out from the north side of the cut. From Commercial Drive to Clark, it’s actually on an elevated guideway, crossing over the railway tracks below from the north side of the cut to the south side. (You can see this from the south windows of an eastbound Expo Line train on the approach to Commercial-Broadway Station.)

  • By Sewing, May 21, 2010 @ 11:17 am


    You could add the removed crossover just west of the existing crossover at New Westminster Station, that went from the eastbound track to the westbound track. During Expo, there was a temporary metal platform over the eastbound track at New Westminster Station, with loading done through the south doors of a train laying over on the westbound track, and unloading done through the north doors.

    (And then of course, there’d be a line of 3 or 4 trains during rush hour on the eastbound track before the crossover, waiting for the first train to clear….)

    And then there was also a short spur (probably not more than 100 metres, if that), just east of Columbia Station, merging with the westbound track from the SkyBridge. This became the westernmost section of the westbound Millennium Line track.

    I’m guessing that the New West crossover was removed some time around when Columbia Station opened in 1989, and the spur was probably put in when the Scott Road extension was built in 1990—but I could be wrong on both of these dates.

  • By Ian S., May 21, 2010 @ 6:14 pm

    @Hilary. Yes, what is now called the Evergreen Line was seen simply as the second phase of the Millennium Line, initially. During construction of the M-Line, the designation of the branch changed to Port Moody-Coquitlam Line or PMC, but I think that was just a working name. It did not go ahead because TransLink could not come up with its major share of the funding — it was expected to pay most of the cost because the province had paid the full cost of the M-Line as we know it today. The province did take some of its funding for the PMC Line and apply it to building the junction at Lougheed, to avoid future disruption.

  • By Ian S., May 21, 2010 @ 6:25 pm

    @Sewing. The section of M-Line guideway between Nanaimo and Broadway in the Grandview Cut is actually resting on dirt. It’s on a shelf that was carved into the side of the embankment. I have photos of bulldozers tamping down the dirt prior to the concrete guideway base being poured.

    This shelf is shored up by a retaining wall of interlocking concrete segments, which drops to the level of the BNSF railway track below, giving the whole thing the appearance of being an elevated man-made structure. Above the M-Line, the embankment is contained by a concrete “greenwall” designed to allow plant life to flourish, which appears to have succeeded.

    That said, I agree it is odd that the project described this section as being at grade. To me, it’s the BNSF that’s at grade.

  • By Sewing, May 21, 2010 @ 6:31 pm

    Yeah, like you and David, I too have wondered about the ambiguity of some of these bits of track. Like Waterfront, which is definitely at grade but has functionally become an underground station; and Nanaimo, which transitions from being very much at grade at its eastern end, to being elevated at its western end.

  • By Dave 2, May 21, 2010 @ 10:11 pm

    Awesome work David… my only quibble to add to the quibbles… “Boundary” future station is marked, but “Grandview” is not… both are probably equal in terms of likelihood of coming to fruition. If you’re going to show Boundary, and Woodlands, and 33rd, and 57th and the rest of the unbuilt Canada Line stations, why not Grandview?

  • By Sean (CMBC), May 22, 2010 @ 12:27 pm

    JACK: My understanding is that the Canada Line is already a Public/Private Partnership. The Canada line is operated by ProtransBC under contract with Translink, and gets paid certain amounts of money if the Canada Line manages to pass certain ridership levels… There is a built in guarantee of a minimal amount of money and riders or Translink could be on the hook for even more compensation to Protrans BC…

  • By David M, May 23, 2010 @ 8:25 am

    Dave 2 – I didn’t know about proposed Grandview Station – is that on the Millenium and if so, where is it?

  • By Dave 2, May 25, 2010 @ 9:25 am

    @DavidM, it was proposed for the M line at Nanaimo Street, between Commercial Drive and Renfrew. It’s completely off the table now as far as I know; about as likely to ever be built as Boundary on the Expo line

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, May 25, 2010 @ 12:33 pm

    David M: Btw, if you revise your map, I am happy to put up the new file for people to download! Just send me an e-mail with the image and I’ll add it to the original post.

  • By dizzy, November 11, 2010 @ 12:22 pm

    Between Burquitlam and Port Moody on the future Evergreen Line is another proposed station called “Queens”

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