Posts Tagged ‘snow’

In the snow, go Diesel LRT! The E & N’s RDC’s (D-LRT’s big cousins) had no problems!

January 2, 2009

Snow pulls Islanders onto E&N trains

Ridership jumped nearly 50% since snowstorms hit

by Darrell Bellaart, Times-Colonist, December 30, 2008

More Vancouver Islanders are choosing to travel by train when the roads get too slushy and slippery to drive. Southern Rail, which operates the E&N railway from Victoria to Courtenay, saw more customers buying Via Rail tickets when heavy snow made travel difficult on the Island Highway earlier this month.

Ridership rose almost 50 per cent in the past two weeks, so Southern Rail asked Via Rail to add a second car, something that only happens during the busiest periods.

“It’s been up and down daily but we’re definitely seeing above-average ridership,” said Don McGregor, Southern Railway Vancouver Island general manager. “Talking to people, there’s a lot of people using the service, rather than using the roads.”

And while Via expects an increase in traffic at Christmas, he said this year the numbers jumped earlier than usual because of Island snow conditions.

The Christmas rush can be heavy enough to warrant putting a second car on the line, but McGregor said when that happens, it’s just a “bit of a blip” for Christmas only. “But this is a significant blip and beyond what we would have expected and it started a week earlier.”

Between Dec. 17 and 28, when weather was at its worst, Via Rail saw 1,132 passengers travelling north from Victoria to Courtenay. That compares with 770 during the same period last year.

“That represents a 47 per cent i n c r e a s e . I t ‘ s p r e t t y significant,” McGregor said. And while McGregor a g r e e s  a  s e c o n d scheduled train would make passenger rail travel more attractive on the Island, it wouldn’t happen before the line gets muchneeded rail bed improvements, which are estimated to cost more than $100 million. That would only happen with government support.

“Our first priority is to get the funding together to get the track up to scratch,” he said. “You’re piling more load on an existing track that needs some infrastructure. It’s like loading up a dilapidated horse.”

About half the passengers interviewed yesterday at the Nanaimo train station said weather played a part in their choosing to travel by rail. “That’s part of it,” said Carol Young, who was on her way back to Courtenay after visiting family in Nanaimo. “I wouldn’t want to drive in this.” She added driving in snow is too stressful and she finds trains a relaxing way to travel, and wishes the service could be expanded.

“There should be two trains a day, because I’d go to Victoria lots if they did,” Young said. Cindy Green came to Nanaimo on Dec. 14 from Fort McMurray, Alta., to spend Christmas with her family. She decided to take the train back to Courtenay so she could catch her plane home from Comox. “I just thought, I don’t know what the roads are going to be like, I don’t know what the weather will be like, I’ll take the train,” Green said. “When a friend’s son drove me here, I was appalled at the roads. I could not believe a major highway [was] like that.”

© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist


The wheezy SkyTrain – a real snow job!

December 30, 2008

Again, SkyTrain embarrassed itself during the snowy Christmas holiday. For over a week TransLink announced fewer, longer trains, manual operation, service disruptions and complete systems shutdowns. SkyTrain is not a new system, being in operation 23 years, there should be no ‘Gremlins’ to fix, but SkyTrain proved again, when it snows in Vancouver DO NOT TAKE TRANSIT!

Saturday night was the climax when someone shot a video of an open door (1 of 3 open doors on the train) 10 metres above Stewardson way, between New Westminster Station and 22nd Ave. Station and posted to U-Tube and subsequently was a leading news feature on Sundays news programs.

TransLink’s spin doctors were hard at it, claiming it was a “one in a million” happening, etc. Sorry old chums no dice, as open doors on SkyTrain is an infrequent occurrence, only this time we have the video proof. The excuse that the “door alarms were turned off because technicians were working on the doors” is appalling and utterly stupid. Does TransLink regularly send technicians to repair SkyTrain while in revenue service? Does Work-safe BC condone this? Evidently transit customers protestations forced TransLink to take the train out of service at 22nd Ave. Station; why wasn’t it taken out of revenue service when the technicians started to work on the problem?

This week has been completely embarrassing for TransLink and the SkyTrain lobby, as they send out the ‘spin doctors’ to placate the transit customers over and over again. Sorry no dice, my friends – TransLink completely screwed up and continues to show that the organization is completely incompetent. What is even more unbelievable, Kevin Falcon and TransLink’s Brass want to build more SkyTrain in even snowier areas in the Tri-Cities and Surrey!

SkyTrain’s problems in the snow can be traced to major design flaws including.

  1. The Linear Induction Motors are only 1 cm. above the reaction rail and are prone to snow and ice damage.
  2. The outside sliding doors fail due to ice build up.
  3. The switches (movable frog switches) and switch motors are prone to ice and snow damage and cannot be operated manually, unlike failed switches on a at-grade LRT system which can be operates manually safely in case of problems.
  4. Poorly designed stations allows falling snow onto the tracks and sets of the anti-intrusion alarms.

Please note, that LRT has little difficulty operating in snowy conditions and during the recent great blizzard in Denver Colorado, the at-grade LRT system was the only public transit system left operating in the city.

VANOC must be shaking their heads with this years disastrous transit operations in the snow. Certainly it has showed the TransLink can’t be trusted to provide vital transportation in snowy conditions. The 2010 Winter Olympics must be the only Winter Olympics in history, where the Olympic Committee prays that there will be no snow!