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Cascade Talgo to Vancouver and new Skytrain extension 1/7/2017

by Chris Guenzler

Bob Alkire had to work today so Elizabeth and I left the house after a delicious breakfast and headed to the Edmonds Amtrak station. We parked the car in the Sounder parking lot and went inside to check in with the Amtrak station agent. He looked at my passport and train ticket and Elizabeth's Nexus card and train ticket. We sat in the waiting room for just about ten minutes, watching a gentleman take down the Christmas lights on the train station. With eight minutes until train time, Elizabeth and I walked out and stood where we were told to. Soon the crossing gates went down and we saw the headlight and the image of the train approaching Edmonds.

Cascade Service Talgo Train 510 arrived into Edmonds and the business class attendant assigned us our seats which were seats 5 and 6 for our journey to Vancouver this morning.

Puget Sound was very calm on this early overcast morning.

At Everett we saw the U.S. Navy ships before our station stop there.

The train makes the turn to cross the Skagit River.

Two more views as we travel along the beautiful Puget Sound.

Chuckanut Bay.

Mount Baker.

The route board and information board on this new version of the Talgo train.

The beautiful Elizabeth in the business class car.

Entering Canada along Semiahmoo Bay.

The snow-capped mountains on Vancouver Island.

The Canadian Cascade Mountains.

The train crossing the Fraser River. We came to a stop at Stillcreek where we became a still train. We sat for the first fifteen minutes until our conductor announced that a CN freight could not make the hill in front of us. Fifteen minutes later, he announced that the train was backing down the hill and would then split into two sections so they could double the hill after we cleared. After another fifteen minutes we started moving. Our conductor apologized for this unique delay and we then headed down the hill toward the station.

CN 9460 East was the offending train.

Westcoast Express cars at the VIA Vancouver shops.

VIA F40PH 6458 at the VIA maintenance facility. We pulled in to the gated storage area for the Talgo and the gate was closed behind us by a security guard. Once the checked baggage was off of the train, they released the business class passengers first to go through Canadian Customs. We had an idea and got permission to do it.

The cab car of this new Talgo set, Mt. Bachelor. It will take me a while to get used to it.

The front of our train in the cage at Pacific Central Station. We both cleared Canadian Customs without a snag before we walked over to the Main Street/Science World station and I bought Elizabeth and I day passes for the Skytrain. We tapped our day passes to open the gate before we went up the stairs to the platform. Vancouver is no longer on the honor system.

TransLink SkyTrain

SkyTrain is the metropolitan rail system of Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. SkyTrain has 79.5 km of track and uses fully automated trains on grade-separated tracks running on underground and elevated guideways, allowing SkyTrain to hold consistently high on-time reliability. The name, SkyTrain, was coined for the system during Expo 86 because the first line {Expo} principally runs on elevated guideway outside of Downtown Vancouver, providing panoramic views of the metropolitan area. SkyTrain has the world's longest cable-supported transit-only bridge, known as SkyBridge, to cross the Fraser River in the suburbs. The opening of the Evergreen Extension made Skytrain the longest fully automated driverless system in the world.

SkyTrain has 53 stations on three lines: Expo, Millennium, and Canada Lines. The Expo Line and Millennium Line are operated by British Columbia Rapid Transit Company under contract from TransLink {originally BC Transit}, a regional government transportation agency. The Canada Line is operated on the same principles by the private concessionaire ProTrans BC under contract to TransLink, and is an integrated part of the regional transport system. The Evergreen Extension, an extension to the Millennium Line, has been completed in the north east suburbs and began revenue service on December 2, 2016.

SkyTrain uses a fare system shared with other local transit services, and is policed by the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service. SkyTrain Attendants {STAs} provide first aid, directions and customer service, inspect fares, monitor train faults, and operate the trains manually if necessary.

Evergreen Extension

The Evergreen Extension, formerly known as the Evergreen Line, is the second phase of the Millennium Line, extending from Lougheed Mall in Burnaby to the Douglas College campus in Coquitlam. Originally referred to as the Port Moody-Coquitlam {PMC} Line, it provides a "one-seat ride" from Coquitlam to Vancouver. Switches to the PMC Line were installed to the east of Lougheed Town Centre Station during its initial construction and a third platform at the station was roughed-in in anticipation of the extension. Phase II was postponed following a change in provincial government and a shuffling of priorities that led to prioritizing building the Canada Line due to Vancouver's hosting of the 2010 Olympics. Preliminary construction of the Evergreen Extension began in July 2012 and major construction started in June 2013 with the construction of support columns for the line. The extension began revenue service on December 2, 2016.

Our Trip

We boarded the train and went one station east to Commercial Broadway. Sit back and relax while I take you on a journey aboard Skytrain from Commercial Broadway then on to VCC-Clark then east to where the Evergreen extension starts on the miles I have already ridden to the miles I have not.

This is the journey from basically VCC-Clark to the Lougheed Town Centre. From here it will all be new miles to the end at Lafarge Lake-Douglas.

Starting the ride on the Evergreen Extension of Skytrain.

This is the junction of the Evergreen Extension and the Expo Line.

The journey from Lougheed Town Centre to Burquitlam.

The Burquitlam station.

The train is making its way to the Evergreen Tunnel that takes it underneath homes and descends to the valley where the CP Rail mainline is.

Inside the Evergreen Tunnel.

Emerging out of the Evergreen Tunnel back into daylight.

The CP Rail main line comes into view.

Coming into Moody Centre station which is the first connection to the Westcoast Express on weekdays only.

The bad wall that blocks my view of the CP Rail main line.

The journey to Inlet Centre station.

Inland Centre station.

We passed the maintenance facility for the Millennium Line.

The journey on the way to Coquitlam Central station which is the last connecting point with Westcoast Express on weekdays only. We met CP Rail 3026 West along the way.

The journey on the way to the Lincoln station.

The Lincoln station.

The journey to the last station of Lafarge Lake-Douglas.

The train pulled in to the end of the track at the Lafarge Lake-Douglas station. I detrained for a picture of this Skytrain that had brought me over my new mileage to get here.

The Skytrain that brought us to the Lafarge Lake-Douglas station today. Having finished that new line, we had to return over it back to the Evergreen Tunnel to the transfer station at Lougheed Town Centre. We walked off one train right onto another one which took us on the Expo Line to the Columbia station. Here we did the go down, over and up to get to our next Expo Line train that we took to King George. At King George, we had to go down, over and up once more to get back on the same train that had brought us here. This train took us all the way to Waterfront station in downtown Vancouver. Once there, we reboarded the same train and took it back to Main Street/Science World station, where we detrained, went down the stairs and tapped our cards to escape Skytrain. It had been an excellent trip aboard the automated Skytrain in Vancouver, Canada.

With no bathrooms in Pacific Central Station until March 17th as they are under renovation, I used the very wet inside portables out in front. With us there now early for our next train back, we decided to have an early dinner inside the station at A&W Root Beer where I had a hamburger and a mug of root beer which always makes me happy. With time to spare, I got the pictures in the computer, did what I needed to do to get them in the story and sized them down for the story. At 4:20 PM, we got into the business class line to go through preliminary US Customs. My documents were checked and I passed with flying colors. Elizabeth had slightly more procedure to go through but nothing that hadn't happened in the past. Once we were cleared, we boarded Amtrak Cascades Talgo Train 517 in the gated area and were assigned seats at a table. I numbered the pictures and then Elizabeth typed my story for me as I dictated. The train left Vancouver on time but was delayed before our favorite place this morning. We were briefly stopped again before New Westminster and then had a very short delay before Mud Bay. We made our way down to White Rock and were given instructions to stay in our seats. The bathroom and bistro car would be closed until after our U.S. Customs inspection. We crossed the border back into my homeland and we stopped the train at Blaine. Three Customs officials started in the first business class car and when they were done there, they came into our car. They quickly looked at each person's documents and then collected our Customs form. About five minutes later the engineer whistled off and we headed down the rails to Bellingham. While all this was going on, I showed Elizabeth my Winterail 2017 Friday night program and my engines that have pulled my excursion trains through the years. That took us almost all the way to Mount Vernon. From here we will enjoy the quiet ride down to Everett, followed by the final sprint for us on this train to Edmonds. We detrained thinking what a great day we both had riding the Talgo both ways to and from Canada and riding the new Evergreen extension of Skytrain. From here, we drove to Alderwood Mall to pick up Bob and headed home for the night.