ALERT! : More info
Translink Buzzer Blog

Behind The Scenes: A look into the remake of a Mark I SkyTrain

SkyTrain OMC

If you’ve ever taken the SkyTrain in Metro Vancouver, you’ve likely been a passenger on a Mark I. Making up 40% of our SkyTrain fleet, 114 of our 150 Mark I SkyTrains are currently undergoing a massive overhaul at OMC2, one of our Operations & Maintenance Centres in Burnaby.

Did you know: Expo and Millennium Lines are serviced by three types of SkyTrain. Mark I, Mark II and Mark III. Mark I’s are most often characterized by their boxy exterior and small front/rear window. Newer generation Mark II SkyTrain cars have a more modern rounded exterior and a larger front/rear window with the coveted “captain” chair at either end. And the newest SkyTrain car in our fleet is the Mark III. The most modern design featuring larger windows all around and a continuous four car configuration meaning you can walk all the way though – end to end!

I recently had the opportunity to take a couple behind the scenes tours of OMC2. This facility was originally home to Bombardier, the manufacturer of our SkyTrains, back in the early 2000’s and used to assemble our Mark II SkyTrains!

OMC2 is currently being used for the various refurbishment activities taking place as part of the Mark I Refurbishment project that will extend the service life of the 100-400 series Mark I fleet moving their retirement date to 2026. Refurbishing the original Mark I fleet not only saves approximately $227 Million dollars over purchasing new trains with the same capacity, but it also allows for us to keep these original 114 in revenue service, complimenting our current fleet and allowing us to maintain frequency and capacity levels.

The Mark I refurbishment project consists of 10 major tasks, some of which are noticeable to customers like new floors, reconfiguration of  seating and perhaps the most noticeable change – exterior painting to match the newer SkyTrain livery.

FUN FACT: All of the original Mark I SkyTrains that entered service in 1986 have been repainted, so if you happen upon a white Mark I car, you know it’s a 500-600 or 700-800 series Mark I that entered service in 1991 or 1995!

SkyTrain lighting before and after

Before VS. After

Lighting in all 114 original Mark I cars are being converted to newer LED style, providing a vastly improved, cleaner, crisper look to SkyTrain interiors.

Some of the not-so-noticeable changes include truck replacement (the piece that holds the train wheels), Vehicle On-Board Computer (VOBC) replacement, Health Monitor Unit (HMU) replacement and Linear Induction Motor (LIM) rewind.

FUN FACT(S): Keeping jobs here at home, the LIMs are rewound at the original equipment manufacturer who happens to be located in Okanagan Falls, B.C., the HMUs in Victoria and all refurbished trains to to Langley for repainting!

Truck replacement takes place using tools and jigs and a process that our mechanics have developed in house to save time and resources! This isn’t the first time we’ve developed proprietary solutions to our unique needs. Check out the innovative work we’ve done with Trolley and SkyTrain de-icers!

Rewinding the LIM not only helps support the local economy, reduces overall costs, but it also breathes another 20-30 years of life into these SkyTrain cars that have already clocked 5-5.5 million kms in their lifetime!

Completion of this massive overhaul is targeted for April 2020. So next time you hop on a SkyTrain, take a good look and see if you can spot the differences!

Author: Sarah Kertcher


  • By Joey Connick, July 24, 2017 @ 6:40 pm

    I think you mean “proprietary”, not “propitiatory”.

  • By Kyle Little, July 25, 2017 @ 6:02 am

    I’ve seen a couple of MK1 vehicles with new trucks, didnt know they are getting new VOBC’s, or is it a rebuild of the original VOBC?

  • By Allen Tung, July 31, 2017 @ 3:47 pm

    Hey Kyle, we are only replacing the parts in the VOBC that need to be replaced.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, July 25, 2017 @ 2:55 pm

    Nice catch Joey. We missed that one :) Fixed!

  • By buses_skytrains_and_more_stuff, July 25, 2017 @ 9:00 pm

    whats the difference between omc and omc2?
    thanks, jacob

  • By Allen Tung, July 31, 2017 @ 3:21 pm

    Hey Jacob (a.k.a. buses_skytrains_and_more_stuff)! OMC 1 is the main Operations and Maintenance Centre, the SkyTrain “yard” as we call it for most of our Expo and Millennium line trains. It’s also where the SkyTrain Control centre is located. OMC 2 is across Southridge Drive from OMC 1, and is where we assemble newly-arrived trains and do some of our train refurbishment work.

  • By Juan, July 26, 2017 @ 1:13 am

    We skytrain fans thought that every repainted car we saw was already refurbished – was this not the case? So any train with specifically red panels around the doors is considered unrefurbished?

    Also, are there plans for the 1991/1995 Mark 1s to be repainted?

  • By Allen Tung, July 31, 2017 @ 3:44 pm

    Hey Juan, the livery is painted at the point that works best in the process. A train may be painted, but still have outstanding interior work that will be done later in the schedule. The refurbishment project covers the original 114 Mark I cars we received in 1985-86. Hope this answers your question!

  • By Joey Connick, July 27, 2017 @ 1:04 am

    So earlier in the article it says the refurbishment project will extend the retirement date of the 100-400 series Mark Ones to 2026, but later it says rewinding the LIMs will breathe another 20 to 30 years of life into these cars. 20 to 30 years from 2013 would be ~2040 to 2050. Can you guys clarify? Was the original life expectancy of the Mark Ones 20 to 25 years and this extends that total to 40 to 45 years (or *please God no* 50 to 55)? Because then it would make sense the 1985 cars would be retired in 2026, approximately 40 years after they came into service.

  • By Sarah Kertcher, July 28, 2017 @ 10:04 am

    Hi Joey!
    Good question! The original 100 – 400 series Mark I SkyTrain entered service in 1986 with a design life to 2011. The refurbishment project that is currently underway will push their retirement date to 2026. Rewinding of the LIMs gives the actual LIM 20 – 30 more years, however we plan to retire the trains prior to that. Hope that answers your question!

  • By Joey Connick, August 4, 2017 @ 11:16 am

    Thanks Sarah!

  • By Elfren Ordanza, February 23, 2018 @ 3:16 pm

    I see that some of the refurbished Mark I’s still have their red panels on the inside. Will they be repainted to the current interior colours like the Mark IIs and Mark IIIs?

Other Links to this Post

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

Please read our Participation Guidelines before you comment.