Further to my last post about the Vancouver Skytrain, I have found three videos which show – sped up – the whole system (except for a bit of the Canada Line).

A few things about the videos really stand out to me:

  1. The extremely high frequency of trains you see travelling in the opposite direction
  2. The extensive amount of high-rise residential development which has occurred around many of the stations (especially on the Expo Line, which is the oldest)
  3. The fact that most of the Canada Line is in a tunnel, and the difference in tunnel shape between the cut & cover (square tunnel) and bored (round tunnel) sections

The videos are a great way to get a good understanding of the system, and also to see a fairly extensive part of Vancouver.

Share this


  1. One thing that stands out for me is the minimal amount of infrastructure at the termini. Just a simple two-platform station with a couple of crossovers for a system handling something like 10x the passenger volume of Auckland’s rail system. I guess driverless trains can start reversing back for their next run pretty quickly, while the driverless operation allows for very tight signalling too.

    1. The signalling on this system is very clever… The trains are programmed to maintain distance between themselves. If there’s plenty of space, they just run at full speed permitted at this particular part of the track, then slow down if they get closer to another unit, eventually stop if they’re too close. Wikipedia explains the software that controls the system – and in severe winter conditions the system has been run manually by drivers… The only times something went wrong was when a person jumped on the tracks, or people kept holding the doors, which was frowned upon by all passengers… If interested, see the interesting facts about the architecture and software side of controlling the units: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SkyTrain_%28Vancouver%29#Design

  2. another Vancouver powst….. Maybe change the title of the blog to “Vancouver Transport Blog” . With all due respect, im getting pretty bored of the same old drivel. Bring back Josh.

    1. You’re not obliged to read these posts Ben, feel free to skip any that don’t interest you.

      Personally I find this Vancouver stuff very enlightening, their systems are an excellent example of how a city like Auckland (and Vancouver is like Auckland) can get exemplary public transport service with low capital and operating costs. I hope the various powers that be in Auckland can take a lead from this stuff.

    2. I suspect that if Josh had his way you would be seeing a lot more, not less, about this kind of system.

  3. What stood out to me was *all stations* had a full roof and generally kept out the rain/wind.

    What a simple concept but one we cant get right even with out newest stations. What was the price for the recently upgraded Ellerslie station $4million? And not even a full roof? How much would that have cost to do properly?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *