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‘Unprecedented’ incident caused massive SkyTrain delays

TransLink officials say the incident that caused the shutdown of the the SkyTrain in downtown Vancouver on Tuesday was “unprecedented.”

SkyTrain passengers faced major delays on the Expo and Millennium lines Tuesday after service stopped to and from downtown Vancouver. Thousands of passengers were stranded as all stations from Waterfront to Broadway closed down, both eastbound and westbound.  Lines for buses were long as people had no other options to get to their destination.

TransLink is saying the cause of Tuesday’s major delays was an electrical problem with a power collector in one of the trains. The problematic train had to be lifted with a hydraulic pump off the tracks to remove the power collector shoe that was damaged after it hit a piece of rail that had been stored along the track.

Photos of damaged power collector shoe.
Photos of damaged power collector shoe. Sergio Magro/Global News.
“We are undertaking a number of rail replacements projects and now on Broadway S-curve we stored a piece of rail that dislodged itself or bounced it’s way into the guideway or into the dynamic envelope of the vehicle and managed to capture that shoe [power collector] in passing,” said Richard Sykes, vice-president of TransLink maintenance.
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When asked if SkyTrain staff were to blame for leaving the tracks there, Sykes explained this was very rare. “I’ve been in the rail industry for 20 years plus, it is standard practice to lay rail  out in the guideway while replacing it from a time and efficiency perspective,” he explained. “It is a common practice to store rail on the location of where you are going to re-rail.”

Wednesday morning TransLink went out to the track and secured the pieces of rail that had been stored on the tracks against the running rail.

WATCH: A look back at SkyTrain’s hits and misses over the years

Some passengers who were onboard the trains when it broke down were stranded waiting for assistance, and even saw the sparks caused by the collector.

TransLink apologized for the delays, saying it was unacceptable.

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WATCH: SkyTrain service to and from the downtown core came to a standstill Tuesday.

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