New SkyTrain cars arriving behind schedule

Delivery of four new SkyTrains is behind schedule, due to delays by the manufacturer.

“We’re running about 60 to 90 days late on the deliveries, which is pretty good considering the challenges that we’ve had,” Haydn Acheson, interim president and general manager of the B.C. Rapid Transit Company, which maintains the Expo and Millennium lines, told the TransLink board of directors this week.

The delays in delivery of the four-car Mark III trains had been caused by issues with painting, wiring and assembly at the Bombardier manufacturing facility. Acheson said TransLink had spent “a fair amount of time” working with Bombardier and measures had been put in place to reduce delays for future orders.

The first of 14 new Mark III trains was shipped from Bombardier’s Kingston testing facility and delivered to the B.C. Rapid Transit Company’s Burnaby operations and maintenance centre in mid September. The second train arrived about two weeks ago.

The first train is in the second stage of a three-stage testing process, while the second train has just started the first stage.

In the first stage of testing, the train is operated for 80 kilometres after service ends. In the second, the train is operated during non-peak hours with no passengers. Next, the train is operated in during regular hours with passengers on board.

Testing is expected to be complete and the first train put into full service by the end of the year.

A third train is being tested in Kingston and a fourth train is being manufactured in Plattsburgh, N.Y.t is expected to be done by Dec. 31.

When new trains are put into service, they will provide an extra trip during the peak of rush hour — an extra 525 passenger positions per train.

Mike Richard, vice-president of operations for the B.C. Rapid Transit Company, said once the four trains are ready to be in service, there will be a SkyTrain schedule adjustment. Schedule changes are expected to take place in April, September and December 2019.

By the end of next year, the goal is to have seven trains, or 28 cars, in service, which will increase capacity by 14 per cent.

TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said there had been improvement since the last large order of rail cars for the Evergreen Line, which he called “fairly rocky,” both in terms of manufacturing and the trains’ initial performance.

“This order has been night and day,” he said.

TransLink has ordered 56 new SkyTrain cars to add service to the Expo and Millennium lines as part of the first phase of the Mayors’ 10-Year Vision for Metro Vancouver Transportation, and 45 new cars to replace aging fleet. The second phase of the plan will see 108 cars added to provide new service and 50 to replace old cars.

jensaltman@postmedia.com

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