Many SkyTrain passengers began walking along the tracks to escape the stalled trains, after a problem with an electrical panel shut down the Expo and Millennium lines in Vancouver. Kiran Hothi/Twitter
Metro Vancouver's TransLink has reopened the SkyTrain after a shutdown of the Expo and Millennium lines early Monday afternoon because of a power outage linked to an electrical panel problem.
The shutdown forced thousands of passengers off trains and out of stations, as TransLink scrambled for almost five hours to evacuate everyone from the system and get it up and running again.
Director of communications Colleen Brennan said a problem with one of TransLink's electrical panels caused a complete power outage.
"We were not able to even get announcements out over our PA system because of that and it brought all of the SkyTrains to a halt."
Brennan said SkyTrains have regular maintenance checks, but she understood the frustration of passengers.
"The reality is we really do feel for our customers, I take SkyTrain myself, I know what it's like when you're delayed," said Brennan.
"It's difficult to get alternate transportation, so we do apologize to our customers and we know that it's difficult and frustrating. We really are sorry about that."
To aid stranded passengers, additional trains were added to the Canada Line, servicing Vancouver, Richmond and Vancouver International Airport, which is not affected by the shutdown.
Additional buses were also requested to service the SkyTrain system and Vancouver police suspended taxi enforcement to allow suburban taxi drivers to enter the city to take stranded passengers home.
As it happened: Read our blog below to see how events unfolded
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Passengers walk off trains
TransLink earlier had to urge frustrated passengers to stay in stopped trains until they were escorted off by SkyTrain staff, owing to the high-voltage tracks and risk of injury or death.
TransLink official Jiana Ling said the trains were being driven manually to stations. All other passengers were being barred from SkyTrain stations.
But many began walking along the tracks to escape the stalled trains. An image posted to Twitter shows people walking along the tracks with children.
The shutdown comes just days after a computer glitch almost scuppered the entire system on Thursday. The problem took almost an hour to be resolved, leaving the evening rush hour in chaos.
Brennan said TransLink is still looking into the cause, but the two incidents seem to be unrelated.
"It's a coincidence, these things happen, and unfortunately it's happened twice in one week."