TransLink rolls out refurbished SkyTrain vehicles (PHOTOS)

SkyTrain Mark I car

Say adios to the Expo-era branded red, blue and white train colours. TransLink has placed the first two of 114 refurbished Mark I SkyTrain cars into service as part of a $37.9-million vehicle upgrade that was first announced earlier this year.


SkyTrain car Mark II
Image: V7217


SkyTrain car Mark I
Image: Ian Fisher via Twitter

The original Mark I fleet of SkyTrain cars have been in service ever since Expo ’86 and have now exceeded their operational life span of 25-years. Instead of retiring the fleet and purchasing new vehicles, the refurbishment will provide the old cars with an additional 15-years in service life.

Without the refurbishment of the original fleet, the cars would have been retired from service and replaced with new and larger Bombardier INNOVIA ART 300 models at a cost of more than $260-million – approximately $3.2-million per car.

“I’m encouraged by TransLink’s decision to refurbish these vehicles and save money,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone. “TransLink serves an area about twice the size of Toronto and provides over one million trips a day. Senior government funding, like the Gas Tax Fund, helps TransLink provide a world-class transportation system for communities and families.”

The Mark I cars are still in great shape despite clocking more than 4-million kilometres in revenue service. Their refurbishment improvements include top-down upgrades to the electrical system, replacing entry doors, replacing and upgrading interior amenities and repainting the exterior with TransLink’s new black, grey, blue and yellow livery.

The worn out seats have also been replaced and reconfigured to allow for more standing capacity and the ease of passenger entry/exit circulation within the cars. Four seats have been removed to allow for “flex space” and eight more passengers to stand.

All 114 of the 1984-1986 ICTS Mark I SkyTrain cars will be refurbished by December 2016 at the old Bombardier Burnaby plant that was originally built for fabricating the Mark II cars in time for the 2002 opening of the Millennium Line.

$28.5-million of the $37.9-million refurbishment project is coming from the federal government’s Gas Tax Fund.

“The current Gas Tax Fund has provided TransLink with access to over $122-million a year, helping us increase passenger capacity and lower regional greenhouse gas emissions,” said Ian Jarvis, Chief Executive Officer of TransLink. “TransLink absolutely relies on funding through programs like the federal Gas Tax Fund to help us maintain our vehicles fleets and service — without it, we would see degradation in both areas.”

“These upgrades to our older cars will improve our customers’ experience by making them more comfortable, maintaining service levels and promoting system reliability,” said Fred Cummings, President of British Columbia Rapid Transit Company. “Restoring these trains shows TransLink’s commitment to keeping the system in a state of good repair while providing our customers with a transit system that is dependable.”

What are your thoughts on the upgrades? Let us know by commenting below.



SkyTrain Mark I car

Image: world21st


Image: TransLink

Future Bombardier INNOVIA ART 300 models: arriving in June 2017

Bombardier SkyTrain car INNOVIA 300
Image: TransLink

Featured Image: Ian Fisher via Twitter

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Kenneth Chan is Vancity Buzz's Deputy Editor and Social Media Manager. He covers stories pertaining to local architecture, urban issues, business, retail, economic development, infrastructure, politics or anything that makes a difference in the lives of Vancouverites. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year's Eve Vancouver. Connect with him at kenneth[at]

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  • Marc

    I wasn’t expecting that they were going to be repainting the exterior with TransLink’s new black, grey, blue and yellow livery. That was an unexpected treat! They look great and shine like a new penny of 2012!

  • Translink Joe

    Are they retrofitted with new technology such as security cameras and other modern fire and emergency safety technology?

  • nester

    nice! ian fisher posted a photo of the newly painted cars:

  • Jass

    I hope they fixed the floors. Some of the trains have soft spots.

  • skyoneder

    ohhh ahhhh so what was once red is now grey/silver lol just buggin

  • Christy C

    Finally the trains will look like they are part of the same system – flying the same team colours. Great job, looks great. Better use of money, now if they can execute the compass card project and look at how much they are paying those x-cops to be transit police – they could probably scrap enoough dollars together to build a new Patullo Bridge.

  • Wasted Mass

    they should wrap and advertise like in Detroit

  • Bob Dobalina

    I wonder if these refurbishments will reduce the noise. The old ones are far louder than the new ones. Fine for the day but not so much when they are moving between stations at 2 am in the morning.

  • chris hansen

    Looks good, but just wait for 1 WEEK, you’ll see how dirty and disgusting the inside of these newly refurbished trains will become…

  • Arnel Mercado

    Maybe the older Mark II cars can receive the same treatment?

  • Josh

    Looks like there are less seats in the new trains (all of the seats are single).

  • No Name

    It looked 100 times better than the cheaped out squeaking korean cars on Canada Line.

  • artboys2girls

    I don’t like the lighter colours-it will just get dirty faster unlike dark colours. JMO

  • Elfren Ordanza

    No, they still have the same old technology. It’s pretty much a repainting job, only they just removed 4 seats for space.

  • Transit Rider

    Air conditioning is important in summer. As well the newer trains that are out now do not have enough bars overhead to hold on to when the train is crowded – people are free standing and reaching for poles in awkward positions. I also find these old trains extremely noisy – if you are on a call it’s very challenging to hear the person you are speaking with. You can really hear the loud screeching from the tracks. Those hard seats are unbearable for long commutes. Seating can be too narrow in some cases especially for taller people – your knees are up again someone else or you just don’t fit properly.

  • Transit Rider

    So I guess – if the refurbished trains can effectively deal with these issues. I’m on board. But it’s not until the paying public actually starts using it will we know how successful the project is. How long will they really last?

  • Ben

    “world-class transportation system?” what a joke.

  • Eh?

    I liked those double seats :(

  • Tim Yzerman

    have they done anything to improve having space for bikes in the cars? It doesn’t seem like it.

  • Tone

    The biggest drawback of the Rotem cars is the lack of steerable axles as the Bombardier sets have. Even with the noise of the older cars, the relative absence of flanges screeching against rails is welcome. I really hate traveling through the tunnel to YVR on the Canada Line due to that screeching as the cars negotiate curves.

  • Tone

    I am torn between being happy that our beloved old Mark I’s will be around for a while and being sad that we are not getting spiffy new rolling stock. I am going to miss the venerable old red white and blue paint scheme, it is one of our very few remaining Expo 86 legacies, a time in our cities history that I will always treasure.

    I thought that the interiors would look a bit more updated inside than they do. All I see really is a more bland color scheme and fewer seats at either end. I hope they kept that nifty fold down seat in the alcove at the front.

  • Matt Foulger

    If you’d like to improve our transportation system I suggest you register a YES vote in the transit referendum later this year!

  • Brycon Slaughter Casey

    actually for a city of 2.5 million it is a world class transit system.

    I’ve used transit in other cities in Canada and Vancouver has the best transit system hands down.

    Compared with seattle it’s no competition for example. Our trains come every 3-6 minutes and have a 95% on time accuracy.

  • George Vancouver

    Would’ve loved a fresh take on the Red, White, + Blue scheme… Keep the past on the rails