VANCOUVER’s planned east-west light rail line is to be built as a second fully-automated SkyTrain route, compatible with BC Transit’s existing Waterfront - New Westminster - Surrey line. The change of policy was confirmed on June 24, when Bombardier announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Province of British Columbia for a 21 km route serving 14 stations.

After years of study and debate, the province had decided in 1995 that a surface light rail line would be less expensive than the linear-motored elevated SkyTrain. However, with light rail costs increasing, discussions were reopened with Bombardier earlier this year (RG 7.98 p444) As well as maintaining compatibility, SkyTrain will offer a faster service; over the past 12 years Line 1 has proved very successful.

Scheduled to open in the second half of 2000, the Broadway - Lougheed - Coquitlam - New Westminster Line 2 is costed at C$450m. It will connect with Line 1 at Broadway station in Vancouver and Columbia station in New Westminster.

Bombardier will supply up to 80 Mk II ALRT vehicles, similar to the Putra cars for Kuala Lumpur. It will also provide control and communications systems, power supply and distribution and a guideway intrusion detection system. The company will also establish a Centre for Advanced Transit Systems in Vancouver to assemble the cars and promote SkyTrain technology around the world. o