CANADA: Tens of thousands of people sampled the new Canada Line during eight hours of free rides on August 17, an opening that was more than three months ahead of schedule and within a budget of just over C$2bn.

The crush of passengers, 30 000 just during the first three hours, caused hours-long waits with lines stretching out of some stations and along adjacent streets. There were celebrations with entertainment, food, drink and souvenirs at all 16 stations.

Prior to the public service, British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell was joined by national and local officials in a ribbon-cutting at Vancouver International Airport station and a ride on the ceremonial first train to Waterfront station downtown; the fully automated driverless metro, built by a public-private partnership, also serves the suburb of Richmond. A fleet of 20 Rotem two-car trainsets, 41 m long and 3 000 mm wide, will work the line.

The 19 km project was completed three-and-a-half months early due to a combination of factors, according to a statement released by private-sector consortium InTransitBC, which designed, built and will operate and maintain the Canada Line.

‘We were working with an excellent system design, we had very good engineering, a great construction team and very successful testing and commissioning of the trains and control system,’ said the statement. ‘In short, good planning and the hard work of about 2 000 individuals have made it possible for us to finish ahead of schedule and on budget.’

Read the full story in the September edition of Metro Report International.