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Photos: all-door boarding at New Westminster Station in the late 1980s

A photo of a SkyTrain stopped on Platform 2 with the temporary structure on top of Platform 1.

The upgraded Commercial–Broadway Station is now open and with that, all-door boarding has arrived at the station!

But, eagle-eyed readers pointed out that technically this is not the first time. SkyTrain temporarily had all-door boarding at New Westminster Station in the late 1980s.

We briefly covered it way back in 2011, sharing this photo from Allan M. showing the temporary structure. So, what’s up with that?

Like the third platform at Stadium–Chinatown Station, it had something to do with Expo 86, a World’s Fair hosted by Vancouver in 1986.

Over its nearly six-month run, more than 22 million people attended Expo 86 and not surprisingly — with the fair’s theme, “Transportation and Communication: World in Motion – World in Touch” — many were eager to experience SkyTrain, one of the expo’s signature attractions.

That’s why a temporary structure was built on top of Platform 1 to help move the large influx of people boarding the SkyTrain at New Westminster Station to head down to Expo 86 and other special events in downtown Vancouver throughout the year.

So, for about three years, there was all-door boarding at New Westminster Station, while we worked to extend the SkyTrain into Surrey. First to Columbia Station, then over the SkyBridge into Scott Road Station. By 1994, SkyTrain added Gateway, Surrey Central and King George stations.

The train approaching New Westminster Station inbound. You can spot the passengers waiting for the train on the temporary structure.

Not only did it make boarding the SkyTrain easier at New Westminster Station, it also sped up the process of sending a train back to downtown Vancouver.

Trains were able to load and unload passengers on both platforms rather than unloading at Platform 2, traveling past the station to switch tracks and then back into the station at Platform 1 to pickup passengers.

An aerial shot of New Westminster Station from the late 1980s.

There you have it! When the new platform, Platform 5, opened at Commercial–Broadway Station, it marked the arrival of permanent all-door boarding for the first time ever.

Update: An earlier version said the temporary structure over the platform was removed in the early 1990s, but it was actually removed in time for Columbia Station’s opening in February 1989. 


  • By Ian Fisher, February 7, 2019 @ 11:55 am

    I believe this was a true implementation of the “Spanish Solution” where the current outbound platform was for alighting only, and the temporary platform that expands the current inbound platform was for boarding only. The photo pretty much confirms this as the “outbound” platform is empty, and the inbound well occupied.

    This is a great solution to handling high passenger volumes at a constrained terminus with no rear crossovers. It’s especially commonly used at busy terminal stations where the tracks end at the station. A superb example is the Hankyu Umeda station in Osaka, Japan. Nine tracks each with dedicated boarding and alighting platforms. Fastidiously clean platforms and trains too.

  • By Gordon, February 7, 2019 @ 7:50 pm

    Fuse in Osaka and Saidaiji in Kyoto, although they are not strictly in or out per side, and not Terminal stations

  • By Alan, February 7, 2019 @ 12:49 pm

    So interesting to see these pictures of New West Station. I first visited BC ten years ago and went to The Keg at New West for a meal, that was the only time I really saw the old station house apart from passing through, by the time I moved here, I think the station was already being upgraded and as I usually go from 22nd to Downtown, rarely would have passed through. Seeing the development that has gone on there in the last 10 years is amazing.

  • By Elfren Ordanza, February 7, 2019 @ 5:00 pm

    How New Westminster Station has changed so much over the years . . .

  • By Stefan, February 13, 2019 @ 10:53 am

    Late to the party, but as Ian noted, this was a “Spanish solution,” and the trains crossed over before (west of) the station, rather than after.

    Outbound trains from Waterfront arrived on the outbound track, and customers left the train via the south (outbound) platform. Then (or simultaneously), inbound passengers boarded from the other side, from the platform extension over the north (inbound) track.

    When the inbound train left the station, it started out travelling west along the outbound track, then switched over to the inbound track (using the crossover that’s still there to this day).

    And stating the obvious, the reason New Westminster was so busy was because, since it was the end of the line, numerous bus routes from Surrey and the Tri Cities converged on it.

  • By Adoxa, February 15, 2019 @ 8:49 am

    Wow what a difference a few decades have made, oh well they often do. 22nd Station in New West still looks like the late 1980’s always wondered why there no development but who am I, just a transit user not a city planner.

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