Sunday, December 18, 2011

West Coast Express

On Dec 10, Translink hosted its yearly Santa Train event, which includes a ride on the weekday/peak direction only West Coast Express Commuter Rail. This is a very difficult train to catch as a one day trip to Vancouver from here, so its much later departure, plus on a Saturday finally made this possible for me.

Just a few things to comment on about the operations of the WCE. First thing I noticed was a coffee shop on board the train. Get coffee and snacks all in route.

Like Sounder platforms, WCEs platforms are built to accommodate 7 cars, however, our train was a 10 car train. It appears 10 cars trains are a normal operation for them as well as they had the stopping down to a science. Clearly a 10 car train doesn't fit in the platform, so Cars 1 and 10 have the exit doors roped off and disabled, cars 2 and 9 have the doors closest to the end of the train, respectively, roped off in the same manner and only one door opens at stops. All doors open on cars 3-8. Might be the future of Sounder trains if ridership continues to rise.

If you purchase a "Return Ticket", lingo for RT ticket, it provides 2 things Sounder tickets do not. First, one way fare for the entire line is $11.50. A Return Ticket provides a slight discount, $1, AND it is valid on all Skytrains, buses and Seabus all day long! Despite our calls to Sound Transit to give us our day pass back, they refuse. (There is nothing wrong with a day pass Sound Transit, it makes things easy to use and understand, do YOU understand that?) ST should return Day Passes to paper tickets, for all to use.

One thing I was surprised WCE does not have is WiFi. There is none. If your spending upwards of 2 hours on this train per day, sure would be nice. With the high cost of this train, it should be an included service.

Overall is a very scenic ride, top speed I measured was 120km ph, or 73 mph. They have several ticket machines at every station as this train (like all of Translinks services) is honor based fares.

I took a few videos of the ride if you'd like to experience it for a YT point of view. I have hinted at Translink to run a train on a Saturday during the summer, but their response didn't sound promising. So for now it will be cloudy scenic rides.

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