TransLink ‘not disappointed’ after new SkyTrain stalls

Next-generation Mark III train from Bombardier undergoing re-testing after losing propulsion on bridge

TransLink's first Mark III SkyTrain

TransLink’s brand new Mark III SkyTrain cars have been pulled out of service for re-testing following a Sept. 21 incident where the new train lost propulsion and stalled on the SkyTrain bridge between Surrey and New Westminster.

The failure prompted a question at TransLink’s board meeting Friday from director Murray Dinwoodie who wondered if staff remain confident in the next-generation SkyTrain vehicles.

“We’ve brought the train back, we’re looking at it, we’re working with the suppliers of the train, Bombardier,” Vivienne King, president of TransLink’s SkyTrain arm B.C. Rapid Transit Co., told reporters after the meeting.

“I am not disappointed. I think they are great machines. And we will have them out and have customers on them.”

VIDEO: Slick new SkyTrain cars hit the tracks

King said staff are trying to determine if the source cause is an ongoing issue or a freak incident, adding they will ensure the new trains don’t cause delays once they are put out into service.

Both King and TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said it is normal to deal with various problems over the course of commissioning a new rapid transit vehicle.

Desmond in particular bristled at a reporter’s characterization that the new train had broken down.

“It’s not a broken-down transit vehicle,” he said. “It is a $3 million piece of equipment that’s still in testing.”

TransLink paid $90.7 million for the 28 new SkyTrain cars in part to ensure extra capacity to serve the 11-kilometre Evergreen Line, now promised to be in service to Port Moody and Coquitlam before Christmas.

Desmond noted new trains are heavily laden with electronics and sometimes require software updates akin to bug fix patches issued by firms like Apple or Microsoft after a major software release.