Commuters riding the Expo or Millennium Line this week may catch a glimpse of the first of 56 new Mark III SkyTrain cars destined for Metro Vancouver, but they will not be able to board just yet.
The new, longer, four-car train runs during non-peak hours as part of its Phase 2 testing.
It includes more room for standing passengers, wheelchairs and bikes, and is fully articulated – meaning passengers can walk the train from one end to the other.
The trains will be stopping at the stations along the lines, but passengers will not be allowed onboard – the doorways will be taped off, and the transit workers will ride the trains to ensure they remain empty.
And second, the new Mark III train arrived in Burnaby last month where it is undergoing Phase 1 of its testing, which involves running 80 kilometers on tracks during non-service hours.
TransLink says 24 more SkyTrain cars are due early next year – but officials admit they're running behind.
At the TransLink Board meeting on Thursday, BC Rapid Transit Corporation (BCRTC) interim president and general manager said the cars are running two to three months behind schedule.
"That's a Bombardier issue, and we've been working with them on that. In fact, we're hopeful that by the time we come to train 14, we're going to have that reduced quite a bit, "he said.
"They put a lot of quality assurance in place to make sure there's no going to be delaying this testing and commissioning."
Part of Bombardier's plan to cut down on delays is 5,000 kilometers of testing on a track in Kingston, Ont., So there are fewer surprises when the train arrives in B.C.
Another 28 SkyTrain cars are slated for delivery by the end of next year.
BCRTC said that the new trains will be added to the regular service once they have completed the third phase of testing, which involves carrying passengers and testing for faults.
It says once four of the new trains are in full service, TransLink will begin adjusting scheduling with new schedules rolled out in April, September and December.
When BCRTC is on track, BCRTC says it will result in a 14% increase in capacity.
The new cars cost $ 298 million and are part of Phase 1 of TransLink's 10-year vision on transit and transportation. Phase 1 also included $ 88 million for 24 new Canada Line cars due by 2020.
Phase 2 will include another 108 new SkyTrain cars and an additional 95 cars to replace aging parts of the fleet.
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