More West Coast Express troubles

Train No. 5 leaving Vancouver was cancelled because of a brake issue.

West Coast Express commuters had to improvise in order to get home Monday night after the last train out of Vancouver broke down.

Train No. 5 leaving Vancouver was cancelled because of a brake issue, TransLink spokesman Chris Bryan said.

That required riders to either catch the TrainBus, which follows the train route, or take the new SkyTrain Evergreen extension to Coquitlam Centre, and catch a No. 701 bus to Maple Ridge or Mission.

Monday was the first night of TransLink’s new 701 service into Mission.

That route is extending eastward in preparation for the cancellation of the TrainBus service, which ends on Dec. 30.

“It’s been a tough month for West Coast Express passengers,” Bryan acknowledged.

Dozens of delays have stalled the five trains between Mission and Vancouver in the past month, mostly because of freight trains on the CP Railway track. Train 5 was later towed to Mission and repaired overnight.

That prompted Metro Vancouver mayors along the commuter line to complain in a letter to the federal transportation minister and CP Railway.

While train service was cut early this week, bus service was also trimmed last week after 34 New Flyer buses, 3300 series, were pulled out of service. A cracked axle was found on one of the buses Dec. 13, so all of the buses of that model and year, 2006, were pulled from service.

Those buses were all based out of TransLink’s Port Coquitlam transit centre, which services Maple Ridge.

“There was an impact on service for about a day or two on these routes,” Bryan said.

To make up for the missing buses, TransLink has put back-up vehicles on to those routes and also pulled those buses from some of the more frequent lines.

The buses will remain off the road until new axles are installed.

• Meanwhile, TransLink’s West Coast Express Santa Trains had a total of more than 5,000 riders on its two Saturday shopping trains into Vancouver. People get to ride the train for free in exchange for bringing in a new, unwrapped gift which is donated to groups such as the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society.

The first Santa Train on Dec. 10, drew 1,509 passengers while the second train on Dec. 17 had 3,560 riders.

In all, 2,524 toys and $1,023 in cash were collected for the Christmas Bureau in Mission, the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society and the Share Society in Tri-Cities.

It’s the 21st year for the Santa Train.

CP Railway’s Holiday Train stopped in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows on Dec. 16, although it was late because of mechanical issues. The Maple Ridge Fire Department and Pitt Meadows Fire Department collected more than $16,000 to be split between the Friends in Need Food Bank and the hamper society. CP Railway also donated $7,000 each to the food bank in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge.

Since 1999, the CP Holiday Train has raised more than $10 million for food banks along its route across Canada.

 

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