British Columbia

Expo Line SkyTrain work to cause overnight racket, delays

TransLink is warning neighbours along the Expo Line that overnight work will cause a disturbance, as crews replace the ageing rail.

Crews will work from roughly 10 p.m. until 4 a.m. to replace the ageing rail along the Expo Line.

Overnight crews started replacing Skytrain tracks at the Main Street-Chinatown station on Apr. 4, 2017. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

Living next to the SkyTrain Expo Line already comes with a some noise, but neighbours can expect even more as overnight work gets started on a major rail replacement project.

And late night riders can expect delays, as the Expo Line switches to a single alternating track around work areas.

TransLink is swapping out the rail on the track, most of which has been in service for more than 30 years and run over by more than two million trains.

TransLink spokesperson Chris Bryan points to the section of rail that will be worked on first, as the $5.5 million/year rail replacement project gets underway. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

"Each year we'll be replacing approximately 5,000 linear metres of rail for the next eight to 10 years," said Chris Bryan, spokesperson for TransLink, adding the work will go into the summer and cost about $5.5 million each year.

The first job, which has been underway since February, is to swap out the track beds beneath the rails. Now, a 20-person crew will begin the project in full by replacing the actual rail.

Expect delays

"It's important with this kind of work that we minimize the impact for our customers, so as part of this, what we're doing is single-tracking, which keeps the trains moving," said Bryan. "People may have switch trains in order to travel, but it keeps the system moving."

Delays along the line can generally be expected from Sunday to Thursday, beginning around 9:30 p.m. PT on most nights.

According to Chris Morris, director of engineering assets at B.C. Rapid Transit Company, the work is done in 240-foot lengths. Each night, the crew will cart one length of rail into place, and work to get it fitted.

"The program is going to be in four different areas, initially this year. We're going to be moving around between Waterfront and Metrotown," said Morris.

Chris Morris, director of engineering assets at B.C. Rapid Transit Company, demonstrates how the new pieces beneath the rail will work. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

"These are places where the rail has worn faster than most, usually because there's curves or switches in the area," he said.

Morris said the rail still has a little bit of life in it and isn't worn to a critical level.

"It's more a matter of economically keeping the system quiet, keeping the wheel life long and controlling the wayside environment, it's not a safety issue as such," he said.

Bryan said the repair noise is unavoidable, and TransLink is letting people in affected areas know in advance.

"Noise is going to be an issue for people," he said.

"This is railway, it's a very heavy duty kind of thing, so there is going to be noise impacts on people in the area.

"We ask for their patience, and we just want to let them know that it's going to be kept to a minimum and we're going to try and get through there as quickly as we can, so it will be right back to normal for them."

Bryan added that after the work is all complete, the system should run quieter.

Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker