ALERT! : More info
Translink Buzzer Blog

Late-night Expo Line riders: plan for extra travel time after 8pm, starting Sun May 12, 2013

A SkyTrain near Main Street-Science World.

A SkyTrain near Main Street-Science World.

Heads up, late-night Expo Line passengers!

Starting Sunday, May 12, 2013 plan for an extra 10-15 minutes travel time after 8 p.m., if you travel on the Expo Line between Waterfront and King George most Sundays to Thursdays.

What’s happening? We’re replacing 34 km of original power rail on the Expo Line. The power rail supplies SkyTrain vehicles with power, approximately 650 volts DC. The full project is expected to take as many as 15 months to complete.

Check out our news release for more info, or visit for the latest updates.

And please share with friends if they might be affected!

Edit: Lots of people on Facebook have asked why we can’t do the replacement while the service is down, and SkyTrain staff provided a great response—I thought I’d share the answer here too.

It’s just too big a project. It takes significant time to disconnect, remove, replace, reconnect the power rail. There isn’t sufficient time to do this in the 3 hours (or less) that we have on weeknights, and only slightly more on weekends.

In very basic terms the work involves the following:
– power rail sections are 10 m. in length, weighing approx. 200 kg.
– target: 130 metres of double rail (positive and negative) per night – that’s 26 sections of rail.
– old rail is disconnected from insulator posts, and removed.
– old insulator posts (every 2 m., bolted to the concrete) have to be removed.
– new insulator posts installed.
– new power rail sections lifted into place and connected.

There will be a large crew working through the night until about 4:30am, clearing out just in time for the start of morning train service; so we are making full use of the non-service hours.

We have tried to minimize the impact with a lot of pre-planning. The reduced train frequency (and longer waiting time) is the result of trains having to run in alternating directions over up to 4 km. of “single” track between available track crossovers. It’s a bit like those summer highway delays when you have to wait, and be escorted in alternating convoys, around a paving crew.

Train service is being timetabled for each area to get the most throughput, and minimize the chance of delays. Trains should be passing each other on the “normal” tracks on either side

We are making exceptions for large events, and are avoiding the busier Friday and Saturday evenings (although that may be cold comfort for any regular Sunday-Thursday evening users).

Have a look at the Transport For London plans for weekend work, where they shut down major sections of the London Underground and Overground services, mostly on weekends. (They have a pretty good web presence and notification process for this.)


  • By kr2101, May 10, 2013 @ 6:56 pm

    Hi there.
    With Main Street in one platform direction, those this includes commercial-broadway station?

  • By Cliff, May 11, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

    Was this service scheduled as a direct result of the recent incident in New Westminster?

    What is the current age of the power rail?

  • By Sheba, May 11, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

    They started doing this work last year and paused in December – they’re just finally starting up again.

    It’s the “original power rail on the Expo Line” so it would have been from ’86 (for opening) and ’91 (for the Surrey extension). I think the only section that’s really had any upgrade work is by Main Street station.

  • By Sheba, May 11, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

    “The work involves replacing 34 kilometers of original power rail on the Expo Line, between Nanaimo and Scott Road stations.”

  • By Eugene Wong, June 1, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

    @ All

    I must confess that I am actually quite impressed with how well it all seems to work. Maybe it was just a case of me not paying attention to what was happening. Maybe it was just a case of me having to wait at Scott Road anyways. I honestly don’t know. I think though, that it has to do with their new way of doing things.

    I headed home from Granville Station to Scott Road Station.

    1 thing that caught my attention was 2 women waiting on the platform. They seemed to be waiting for another train, so I asked them if they intended to go beyond Metrotown. The sign had said that the current train was short turning at Metrotown, so I figured that all riders would have to transfer to a shuttle, and that they shouldn’t wait.

    Since they were going beyond Metrotown, I suggested that they got on, and they did. Knowing that I might have saved them some time and prevented inconvenience, I got the warm fuzzies.

    At Metrotown, the wait must have been around 4-6 minutes. I never bothered to look. I was impressed by how fast it felt, though. We got on board the next train, which went all the way through, instead of short turning like the previous train. That was surprising to me. It seems that they were short turning every other train to keep the frequency up, which seemed like a very smart idea. This implied to me that they put some actual thought into it in order to make the rider’s experience as smooth as possible. I really appreciated that. It looks like they care.

    In the past, they have actually bunched up 12 cars at once. Even if the average wait time was the same as last night, it felt longer, because some people had to wait for a total of 15 minutes *all at once*. Assuming that there really is a new way of doing things, the new way seems to get rid of extremes for an important minority of people. It makes no sense to delay the riders, who do not need to pass through the bottle neck.

    It made me wonder if any of this magic could be applied to normal service. The late evening service is perfect for improvements and adjustments, because there is great demand for improvements, and there is space in the schedules for it.

    Maybe there could be a some kind of shuttle run that scoots in between regular service trains. At night, a lot of people are tired. They just want to lean back, and maybe sleep. Maybe there could be an express train that stops at every station in the tunnel, and at the siding at Stadium Station, and then at Broadway, Metrotown, Scott Road, and Surrey Central.

    Not having to put up with cold air every time the doors open would be a nice feature. It would allow people to be more comfortable.

    A very interesting feature of the express train is that it gets people used to reduced *regular* service, if there is a need to reduce it. When there is track maintenance, Translink could get rid of the express service, and everything could potentially feel the same. *shrug*

    I am interested in reading what others think and have experienced.

  • By Eugene Wong, June 1, 2013 @ 5:21 pm

    @ Translink and All

    While we’re at it, this service might be more tolerable, if it had its own name. Perhaps call it “Single Track Service”, “Scramble Service”, or “Construction Service”. The name does not have to be warm and fuzzy, but it should be simple and as pleasant possible, without being dishonest. I am sure that we can come up with better names.

    A bad name would comparable to “a covering with no guarantees for that bloody wound on your skin, which so painful, frightening, ugly, gorry, and unbearable”, instead of “bandage”.

    What does everybody think?

  • By Anonymous, June 2, 2013 @ 11:33 am

    @ Translink

    “We have tried to minimize the impact with a lot of pre-planning.”

    Who is “we”? Did they have to get GVRD approval? Is the marketing department involved? Is the decision entirely made in the planning department? Did the financial department have a chance at disapproving?

    Did any executives or presidents or chairmen or mayors have a say?

  • By Eugene Wong, June 2, 2013 @ 11:34 am

    @ All

    Sorry. That anonymous post was me.

Other Links to this Post

  1. The Buzzer blog » Expo Line Power Rail Replacement work – late-night shuttle service begins Feb.16 — February 15, 2014 @ 10:15 am

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