West Coast Express is a commuter rail service that runs 68 km between Mission and Vancouver. (Special to The News)

West Coast Express is a commuter rail service that runs 68 km between Mission and Vancouver. (Special to The News)

Seven West Coast Express locomotives getting $20 million makeover

Feds, province and TransLink announce funding for public transit initiative Wednesday

A $20 million investment in the refurbishment of seven West Coast Express locomotives is expected to make them run cleaner and longer.

The project announced Wednesday, March 17 includes refurbishing the engines of six of the seven locomotives to extend their lifespan by 15 years.

In addition, all head-end power units, which provide heat and lighting to the passenger cars, will be replaced to reduce emissions, improve energy efficiency, and allow operation of longer trains.

The federal government is investing $10.2 million in this project through the public transit infrastructure stream of the investing in Canada infrastructure program. The province is contributing $9.2 million and TransLink is chipping in $1.5 million for this project, too.

Canada’s Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Catherine McKenna, said investing in clean, reliable and comfortable public transit is an important part of the federal government’s plan to create healthier communities in the Lower Mainland and across the country.

“Today’s announcement is a great example of the type of strong collaboration that we need to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 in a way that achieves Canadians’ environmental goals and economic hopes,” she said.

READ MORE: Riders slow in returning to West Coast Express

British Columbia’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Rob Fleming, said there are many benefits to the promised refurbishment.

“We’re committed to building B.C. back better by continuing to invest in transportation projects that create jobs, give people more options to get to where they need to go, and help get people out of their cars and on to public, low-carbon commuter trains,” he said.

Local politicians on the train’s route are also excited about the announcement.

Lisa Beare, MLA for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, said the upgrades will be beneficial for years to come.

“Our government knows that investing in good public transit is essential for making sure that our communities can thrive as we look ahead to our post-pandemic world,” she said.

READ MORE: West Coast Express has been running for 25 years

West Coast Express is a 25-year-old commuter rail service that runs 68 kilometres between Mission and Vancouver.

Prior to COVID-19, there were roughly 11,000 boardings on the West Coast Express every weekday.

To ensure there is no disruption in service, locomotives will be refurbished one at a time, with each locomotive tested, commissioned, and returned to service before work starts on the next locomotive.

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