Fleet and Technologies

 

SkyTrain represents a modern family of automated rapid transit systems also known as Intermediate Capacity Transit System (ICTS), Advanced Light Rapid Transit (ALRT), and Advanced Rapid Transit (ART).

The technology is a blend of design principles and philosophies of conventional rapid transit (subway), Light Rapid Transit (LRT), and automated systems. As well as new applications such as the linear induction motor (LIM), steerable axle bogie, and moving block inductive loop train control system.

Propulsion power is 600-650 volts DC, as is commonly used in rapid transit systems. Power pickup uses separate positive and negative rails, isolating the normal propulsion power path entirely from the running rails. This avoids electrolytic corrosion problems in both the guideway structure and adjacent underground utilities, and provides a robust power distribution system with ground fault protection and lower voltage drop.

The Expo and Millennium Lines run mostly in an elevated guideway, with approximately 8 km of the guideway in-cut or at-grade.

These two lines also operate in three sections of tunnel. The first tunnel, the Dunsmuir tunnel, is a 1.3 km section of track under Vancouver's downtown core. The Dunsmuir tunnel was originally a single-track conventional railway tunnel that was excavated and tiered for SkyTrain’s stacked-train operation.

The second section of SkyTrain tunnel is approximately 0.4 km long and surrounds Columbia Station.

The third section of tunnel is 0.7 km long and was built using the cut and cover method along the North Bank of the Fraser River connecting Columbia to Sapperton Station.

Two of SkyTrain's 33 stations are fully in tunnel (both in Downtown Vancouver); three are partially underground; three are at, or below grade; and the remaining 25 stations are elevated.

SkyTrain uses the Thales (formerly Alcatel) SelTrac communications based moving block system to provide the functions of automatic train operation, protection, and regulation through the following three-tier hierarchy:

Vehicle On-Board Control (VOBC): a dual processor computer on the train that controls propulsion, braking, direction and door operation, and monitors speed and critical faults.

Vehicle Control Centre (VCC): the computer group located at the BCRTC Operations and Maintenance Centre that controls track switches and the safe distance between trains through a radio frequency inductive loop cable that is fixed between the running rails. SkyTrain has four VCC territories (Expo Line West, Expo Line East, Millennium Line, and the yard). Each territory is controlled by its own set of three IBM micro-computers running in synchronization to ensure consistency of safety-critical actions and to provide redundancy in case of failure.

System Management Centre (SMC): the supervisory level that performs system-wide schedule regulation of trains and provides the primary interface for SkyTrain Control Operators in routing and monitoring trains. Operator workstations and graphical mimics are linked to a pair of servers through an Ethernet LAN. A major system upgrade was completed in mid-2012, switching from the OS/2 based Selnet SMC to the Windows-based NetTrac.

The average SkyTrain car operates more than 180,000 kms per year – equivalent to 12 hours a day, every day. The initial fleet of 114 Mark I cars, acquired in 1984 through 1986, has averaged more than 4 million kms per vehicle, with several more years of useful service life still remaining.

Mark I (MK I)

Built in Kingston, Ontario, by Urban Transportation Development Corporation (UTDC), the MK I car is comparable in dimensions to a bus: 12.7 metres (41 feet) in length and 2.5 metres (8.1 feet) in width. The MK I cars have a normal capacity of about 80 passengers per vehicle (36 seated passengers and a standing area of 11 m2, at 4 pass/m2). Cars are permanently joined together and can be run as two, four, or six-car trains although, currently, only four and six-car trains are used in regular service.

Mark II (MK II)

The Millennium Line introduced a new SkyTrain vehicle, the MK II. UTDC's successor, Bombardier Transportation Systems, delivered 60 new MK II’s from 2002 to 2003. Much of the vehicle assembly took place at the former Bombardier assembly plant in Burnaby.

With an overall length of 17.1 m, the MK II’s are 35% longer than their MK I counterparts and can carry about 60% more passengers. The MK II's have the same body width at floor level as the MK I's to fit both Expo and Millennium Line platforms, but the MK II’s upper car body is wider by up to 15 cms. The cars seat about 42 passengers and have a peak capacity of about 130 passengers. The MK II’s operate as two-car and four-car trains.

New MK II’s

In 2009, an additional 48 Mark II vehicles, built by Bombardier, were added to the fleet, increasing peak hour capacity by about 30%. The new MK II’s have 34 seats and increased standing and wheelchair, stroller, and scooter capacity.

MK III

Bombardier designed the newest generation of SkyTrain vehicles, which were introduced into the rapid transit system in 2016.