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Insights The Canada Line | taking transportation into the future

Growing at almost double the rate of the Canadian economy, the transportation section has seen meteoric success in the last few decades. Despite some setbacks, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, transportation projects are getting bigger and better. One in particular springs to mind.

The Canada Line is a 19 km, fully automated commuter rail line and part of Vancouver’s SkyTrain network, one of the largest of its kind in the world. It connects downtown Vancouver with existing heavy rail lines, bus services, commuter rail, sea bus and the airport. The driverless system includes eight underground, six elevated and two at-grade stations, as well as an operations and maintenance centre.

Project statistics 🏆

  • At 19 km, this makes The Canada Line the largest fully automated commuter rail network in the world
  • An astounding 150,000 passengers use the rail network on weekdays
  • A project schedule of just 51 months
  • 400+ design, supply and construction contracts
  • Running at an average availability rate of 99.8%
  • Construction ended 110 days ahead of the deadline

image of a train on the canada lineA new vision in transport

In 2005, AtkinsRéalis won the contract for the total work on the Canada Line. It was an exciting prospect for our teams across the roles and disciplines. Our work has extended through every part of the project lifecycle – from engineering, procurement and construction, to partial-finance, and the operation and maintenance services we provide today. As part of the public-private partnership in Vancouver’s public transit service, we provided a third of the equity and arranged hundreds of millions of dollars in loans.

Collaborative approach

The client needed the project finished before Vancouver welcomed the world for the Olympic Winter Games. Timelines were tight, with a project schedule of only 51 months. Our diverse network of employees has an integrated approach, which encouraged communication and collaboration between the equity provider, designer, constructor and operations and maintenance team. More than 400 design, supply and construction contracts were efficiently managed and coordinated in this way. Our team’s approach paid off, with construction ending some 110 days ahead of the deadline.

Procuring the best vehicles

The Canada Line needed to be served by its own unique vehicle fleet. Our procurement team at AtkinsRéalis Canada went about selecting the most technically suitable vehicle for the best price. Our engineers developed the performance specifications for the new rolling stock, carrying out design reviews and monitoring the fleet’s manufacturing, testing, and commissioning. We are proud to say our amazing teams delivered the vehicles on time and on budget.

Ongoing optimization of the line

Numerous innovations have led to new tools on the Canada Line to support excellence in operations and asset management. For example, our engineers developed new systems to monitor train and track conditions in real time along the length of the line. Plotting the variations in traction by location is helping us maintain extremely high availability performance.

image of the canada line

Raising the bar on customer satisfaction

Our project managers, civil engineers and planners alike share a common goal to provide excellence to our clients and make a difference in the lives of everyday people. The Canada Line opened its doors to the public more than three months ahead of schedule and on budget. It has made an incredible difference to the growing communities all over British Columbia. Running at an average availability rate of 99.8%, the Canada Line is setting standards for ridership and customer satisfaction. Its success has led to plans to expand the service available on the line!

Inspired by innovations that are connecting Canada? Learn about how Canada can use Indigenous partnerships to engage the wider labour force.

Just some of the honors our team has received:

  • 2017 Gold Award for Service Delivery Excellence
  • 2010 Schreyer Award
  • 2010 Lieutenant-Governor’s Award and Award of Excellence
  • 2009 Gold Award for Infrastructure
  • 2008 Award of Excellence, Transportation
  • 2006 Infrastructure Deal of the Year
  • 2006 North American Transport Deal of the Year

Do you want to be involved in projects like this?

Come and join the team in Canada. We're passionate about delivering projects like the Canada Line that benefit our communities. To do so, we need people who are equally passionate and committed to having a positive impact.

Explore our Canadian success story to learn more about what inspires us, or browse core jobs in Canada to find an opportunity where you can get involved in our future success.