On 2 December a 11 kilometre extension was added to the SkyTrain automated metro system in Vancouver, Canada. The Evergreen Extension comprises six new stations and forms part of the Millenium Line, which has been restructured along with other parts of the network.
With the new extension, the Millennium Line will no longer run to Waterfront Station. It will take passengers from VCC-Clark to Lougheed Town Centre and will continue onto the Evergreen Line extension. The Expo Line now has two routes, one travelling between Waterfront and King George stations and a second between Waterfront and Production Way-University station.
The new extension connects the SkyTrain network to the Tri-cities, a group of suburban cities of the Vancouver metropolitan area. The six new Millennium Line stations are Lafarge Lake–Douglas, Lincoln, Coquitlam Central, Inlet Centre, Moody Centre, and Burquitlam.
One of the world’s longest networks
The extension makes SkyTrain the longest grade-separated transit system in Canada (edging Toronto) and one of the longest fully automated systems in the world.
The line uses the same automated technology as the SkyTrain metro lines operated by TransLink elsewhere in Vancouver (SelTrac CBTC-UTO signaling provided by Thales).
Most of the line is at-grade or elevated, but there is a 2-km tunnel in between Burquitlam and Port Moody Stations with sustained gradients of 6%. This tunnel was built as a single bore, with tracks installed side-by-side and a dividing wall for fire and smoke control.
Rolling Stock by Bombardier
The new Millennium Line will use 2-car Bombardier trains but at very high frequencies, every 3-4 minutes during peak, 6 minutes off-peak, and 10 minutes at night.
In conjunction with the Evergreen Project, seven 4-car Bombardier Mark 3 trains were introduced to Expo Line operation in 2016, allowing 2-car trains to be reallocated for Millennium Line operation. These open gangway trains feature extra large windows and improved doors to reduce noise and drafts. The nominal capacity per train is 532 passengers. An additional 28 (seven 4-car trains) cars of this type are on order for delivery in around 2019.
Right and left-hand traffic
A unique feature of the Evergreen Extension is the section between Lougheed Town Centre Station and Burquitlam Station: trains run in the direction of left-hand traffic instead of the standard right-hand traffic, and utilise two switches just to the south of Burquitlam station to return to normal traveling direction. This configuration is due to the junction configuration at Lougheed and a desire to maximise convenience for passenger interchange at Lougheed.
An existing SkyTrain station, Lougheed Town Centre, has been upgraded to serve the Evergreen Extension. Another upgrade of an existing station, Commercial-Broadway, is underway and is to be finished late 2017. This will add a new Expo Line side platform primarily for boarding passengers headed towards downtown. The existing Expo Line centre platform will be mainly for alighting from the westbound track, and both boarding and alighting on the eastbound track. This will help increase station capacity and control dwell times at this key interchange location between the Expo and Millennium lines.