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June 9, 2015 SkyTrain disruption update

Interim CEO Doug Allen and independent reviewer Gary McNeil spoke to the media today about yesterday’s SkyTrain disruption as well as progress made on Mr. McNeil’s report on SkyTrain.

As noted by Doug Allen, TransLink has improved in the response time to SkyTrain disruptions, but work still needs to be done to make it quicker.

After the above press conference this morning, a technical debriefing was held regarding the initial cause of the disruption. Below are a couple images of the damaged linear induction motor on one of our SkyTrain cars. The exact cause of the damage is still being investigated.

linear induction motor damage

linear induction motor damage

Another view of the damaged linear induction motor

Another view of the damaged linear induction motor

If you weren’t aware of the disruption yesterday, below is a statement TransLink issued to media and shared via social media:

We thank our customers for their patience and apologize for the major inconvenience they experienced this afternoon because of the SkyTrain delay. The delay occurred at the peak of rush hour service, which affected our most regular daily customers. While we recognize the inconvenience and longer commute times, we appreciate their patience and calm behaviour while our staff worked to repair the problem and help redirect customers via alternate means.

While the specific cause of the delay is still under investigation, a technical issue at 4:10 p.m. caused 19 trains between Royal Oak and Waterfront stations to stop running. Expo Line trains continued to run between Edmonds and King George stations, and Millennium Line trains continued to run between Columbia and VCC-Clark stations.

Many trains were stopped between stations; several were attended by a SkyTrain Attendant within 5-10 minutes and driven manually to the nearest station. Staff attended the majority of the remainder of the trains within 30 minutes.

Customers broke out of three different trains in the Nanaimo SkyTrain area, so we had to turn off power in the area to ensure customers were safe and clear of trains. Attending to these customers delayed SkyTrain system recovery by an additional hour.

25 buses provided shuttle service between affected stations. We deployed over 100 staff to help customers, respond to questions and assist with crowds – including 60 SkyTrain Attendants on trains and at stations; 16 Transit Police officers and five Transit Security units; 13 support staff; and eight transit supervisors.

7 additional technicians worked to bring the system back on as quickly as possible.

By 6:10 p.m., we were able to provide some service with SkyTrain Attendants manually driving trains in the affected area. We restored full service by 6:45 p.m.


  • By Dennis, June 10, 2015 @ 8:06 pm

    Are there any minutes or notes from the technical debriefing?

  • By Ric, June 11, 2015 @ 4:56 pm

    Any idea which train car this happened on?

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, June 18, 2015 @ 2:57 pm

    Hi all. Sorry for the late reply. I’m asking for a short description on the technical nature of the disruption and will post it a.s.a.p. Stay tuned!

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, July 24, 2015 @ 4:10 pm

    Hello again,

    I have a detailed response on the technical nature of the disruption. Sorry for the delay. Here’s a note from the BCRTC Vehicle Maintenance department:

    An arcing fault (typically caused by a foreign object) in one of the Linear Induction Motors on car 073 caused disruption to communications between several trains and the central computers.

    Even though the fault was on one train, the electromagnetic interference caused by the fault (similar to an arc welder) was of sufficient magnitude to travel along the power rails (which act as a large antenna) and be emitted back into the automatic train control cables several kilometers away from the fault thereby affecting several other trains. When communication is disrupted, the train emergency brakes and comes safely to a stop.

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