By Roy L Hales
“You know that it is a tradition in the tunnel boring industry to name the machine after woman,” British Columbia’s Premier, Christy Clark, began. “We are here today to christen this machine Alice, after Alice Wilson who was the very first woman they ever hired in the Geological Survey of Canada.”
Premier Clark, the Honourable James Moore, Federal Minister Responsible for British Columbia, B.C.’s Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone, and TransLink board chair Marcella Szel were there to announce the start of construction on the Evergreen Line’s tunnel.
“We promised to open the line by summer 2016, create 8,000 jobs, and give families and communities the transportation choices they need – and we’re delivering,” said Premier Clark.
“This next stage of construction brings us one step closer to the opening of the Evergreen Line SkyTrain extension,” said Szel. “This new service will be a fast and convenient way for people in the Tri-Cities to seamlessly connect to the Metro Vancouver transit network.”
The tunnel boring machine named “Alice” started digging during the second week of March. It is expected to take around a year to bore through the two kilometer segment, advancing an average of eight meters a day.
Once it is completed, the 11 kilometer long Evergreen Line will connect Lougheed town centre, in Coquitlam, to the existing sky train system. This will create a 79-mile-long network that passengers can utilize to reach New Westminster, Downtown Vancouver, Surrey, the Vancouver Airport and Richmond.
It will be the longest transit system in Canada. The Toronto subway and RTwill be 76.9 km, after the York University/Vaughan extension is completed in 2016. Montreal Metro is 69.2 km.
Most of the World’s large transit systems are in Europe and Asia. The New York Subway is an exception and 60% of its 368 km route is underground.
Some other US rapid transit systems of note:
- The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is 167 kms
- the Boston Subway is 103
- Los Angeles Metro Rail Light Rail is 140 kms,
- Dallas Area Rapid Transit light rail is 137 kms.
- San Francisco Muni Metro is 115 kms,
- Portland MAX Light Rail is 84 kms,
The first leg of Vancouver’s SkyTrain built for Expo ’86. It ran from New Westminster Station to Waterfront Station, in downtown Vancouver. A “Surrey Extension” was added in 1994 and fifteen years later the “Canada Line,” was built to Richmond and the Vancouver Airport. The Evergreen System was first considered in 2002 but, due to financial considerations, construction did not begin until last year.
Funding for the Evergreen Line will come from several sources. The Government of Canada is contributing up to $424 million, the Government of B.C. $586 million and other partners $21 million. TransLink is contributing the remaining $400 million and will operate the system when it opens.
The Evergreen Line is expected to open in 2016 and was designed to meet peak passenger capacity of 10,400 by 2021. It can carry 70,000 people a day, removing up to 40,000 cars cars from the roads.
A spokesperson from the Province’s Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure said, “The expected reductions in greenhouse gases are 13.4 kilotonnes on opening day and 18.3 kilotonnes in 2021, based on modelled regional vehicles trips with and without the Evergreen Line, using average fuel economy estimates, and Environment Canada rates for GHG emission factors for a gram pollutant per litre fuel consumed.”
He added that, “There are 28 new SkyTrain vehicles being purchased as part of the Evergreen Line Project. The Mark III trains are the next generation of the SkyTrain vehicles from Bombardier. They will be fully compatible with the SkyTrain system including the Evergreen line. The key difference of these new Mark III trains is that four cars are interconnected in a train and passengers will be able to walk-through the entire train. The existing fleet of Mark I and Mark II vehicles will be fully compatible with the Evergreen Line.”
The trains will transverse this route at speeds of up to 80 km/h, making four stops along the way, and completing the trip in approximately 15 minutes.
(Photo at to of page: Looking North at the New Lincoln Station- Evergreen Line Rapid Transit Artists Renderings)