TransLink does not yet have the capability to rapidly auto-restart a shut down SkyTrain line

TransLink does not yet have the capability to rapidly auto-restart a shut down SkyTrain line

Fast SkyTrain restart five years away

Rapid transit shutdown halted Expo Line trains more than two hours as thousands of fans tried to get to Canucks game in Vancouver

It will be nearly five years before TransLink expects to have a solution in place to rapidly restart a stalled SkyTrain line and avoid long stoppages like the one on Saturday night.

A power surge shut down Expo Line trains for up to two and a quarter hours starting at 6 p.m. Saturday as thousands of Canucks fans were trying to get downtown for a hockey game.

Twelve of the 19 trains that had to be halted to ensure passenger safety were stuck on the tracks between stations and staff had to manually drive them back to the nearest station and re-enter them in the computer system.

It’s been nearly one year since an independent review recommended TransLink spend $71 million on system upgrades following major SkyTrain meltdowns the previous summer.

The top operational recommendation from consultant Gary McNeil was to add an auto-restart function to the control system that would allow trains to reinitialize and begin moving automatically in a matter of minutes if not seconds.

His report noted an auto-restart module was available when the SkyTrain control software was upgraded in 1994, but the version that was installed then did not include it.

TransLink is now targeting 2020 for completion of the auto-restart capability, said Colleen Brennan, vice-president of communications.

Feasibility studies are to be complete by next summer, followed by a business case and then a request for proposals.

She said it’s a “fairly complex undertaking” because of a series of technical prerequisites, including the replacement of copper cables with fibre optics along the lines.

“It’s not a plug-and-play kind of a system,” Brennan said. “It actually has to be developed and it has to be purpose-built specifically for the system we have.”

McNeil’s report suggested auto-restart might cost $5 million, but Brennan said it’s premature to provide a cost estimate.

Six out of 20 recommendations from McNeil are complete, with 11 in progress and three in the development stage.

Only one person pried open train doors and walked out on the tracks Saturday, according to TransLink spokesperson Anne Drennan, who called that “a major improvement” over unauthorized mass exits last year that further delayed the ability of staff to drive trains back into stations.

“The response was pretty incredible this time in terms of getting it back up and running,” Drennan said.

She credited improved announcements and communications this time – which were also McNeil recommendations – that helped reassure passengers, who “were quite patient.”

Many of the riders stranded at stations used bus bridges to get downtown.

About half the Expo line from King George to Edmonds was running by 7:15, allowing the buses to redeploy to the Vancouver segment of the line.

The Millennium and Canada lines were not affected.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kao Macaulay has been charged in relation to a home break-in on March 30 in Abbotsford in which five kittens were stolen. (Facebook photo)
Former Chilliwack man charged with theft of 5 newborn kittens in Abbotsford

Prolific offender Kao Macaulay, 23, accused of breaking into home on March 30

Workers were on scene to clean up the oil spill in Abbotsford at Trans Mountain Pipeline’s Sumas pump station in June 2020. (File photo by Shane MacKichan)
TSB releases final report on June 2020 oil spill in Abbotsford

Transportation Safety Board says pipeline fitting to blame for spill of up to 190K litres

About 80 demonstrators walked through Hope with signs in support of saving the Station House on March 23, 2021. (Photo/Christian Ward)
Public hearing now planned for Hope’s Station House decision

Council has now taken steps to remove heritage status from historic building

Cemetery staff installed the wrong headstone on the grave of Jima Kiir, even though the headstone’s photo did not match with the photo placed on the grave. (Submitted photo)
Abbotsford mother upset city placed wrong headstone on son’s grave

Cemetery staff mix up graves of 2 recently deceased men from South Sudanese community

Williams Lake RCMP arrested a man Saturday, March 13 near Wildwood in vehicle stolen in Quesnel. (RCMP logo)
UPDATE: Chilliwack woman missing since March 17 found safe and sound

RCMP thanks the media and public for assistance

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

Maple Ridge's Doug Ubell caught some photographs recently that he was anxious to share, one taken while on the Trans-Canada Trail looking southwest towards the Pitt River Bridge, and another from on Golden Ears Bridge. (Special to The News)
Traffic on Golden Ears Bridge returning to pre-pandemic levels

Commuters from Greater Vancouver still driving more, taking transit less

Sheila Malcolmson, B.C.’s minister of mental health and addictions (Screen shot)
Minister of mental health tells Surrey audience COVID-19 ‘has made everything worse’

More than 23,000 people in B.C. are receiving medication to treat opioid addiction

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Defence counsel for the accused entered two not guilty pleas by phone to Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Jan. 12. File photo
B.C. seafood company owner fined $25K for eating receipt, obstructing DFO inspection

Richmond company Tenshi Seafood is facing $75,000 in fines as decided March 4 by a provincial court judge

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 2, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. NDP ministers defend ‘air tax,’ latest COVID-19 business aid

Empty home tax doesn’t apply to businesses, but space above them

In Ontario, COVID-19 vaccine clinics have been set up at local mosques. (Submitted photo: Rufaida Mohammed)
Getting the vaccine does not break your fast, says Muslim COVID-19 task force

Muslim community ‘strongly’ encouraging people to get their shot, whether or not during Ramadan

Shannon Claypool, president of the Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association, stands outside the Cloverdale Rec. Centre. The rec. centre has been set up as a mass vaccination site by Fraser Health and the Association has decided to cancel the rodeo in order to offer the fairgrounds for public parking. (Submitted)
Cloverdale Rodeo cancelled

Fairgrounds to be used as public parking for mass vaccination site at Cloverdale Rec. Centre

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read