SkyTrain OMC Tour

This past Wednesday I had an opportunity to tour the SkyTrain Operations and Maintenance Centre (OMC). I have been there once before back in 2010, and a lot has changed since then.

First place we visited on the tour was the Control Room. The Control Room is in a restricted area on the top floor of the OMC overlooking the yard. At least eight people staff this room 24 hours a day, monitoring, responding to and resolving problems across the system. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to take any photos inside the room. But since the last time, most (not all) of the CRT monitors have been replaced with modern flat screens. Despite the modernizations so far, current control room is planned to be replaced in the next several years.

Mimic screens displaying all the trains on the Expo and Millennium lines, outside the main Control Room.

Next, we went through the office areas. One relatively new room is the Visual Management Centre, a room which has flat screens all the way around.

The Visual Management Centre has flat screens all the way around the room.
A smart screen on one side.

Apparently executives and other management come in here to discuss KPIs. Each department can be displayed on its own screen, or for vehicle maintenance purposes, the details of each and every train car can be shown across all the screens.

The smart screens are also in use in other offices I was able to tour, one of which was the engineering duty manager’s (EDM) office adjacent to the main Control Room. Through different application interfaces, the EDM is able to pull up operational status and history of different components of the system such as track switches and facilities such as escalators and elevators.

However, not everything is modern and electronic. We walked through the Library, which contains document archives from maintenance (each train car has its own folder), manuals for training and other literature.

One corner of the Library.

Afterwards, we prepared ourselves to walk through the maintenance area and yard. Safety standards have apparently increased since last time, and I was required to put on steel toe caps, a safety vest and safety glasses.

Steel toe caps that fit over normal shoes.

We walked through the two maintenance shops, where trains get worked on.

Vehicle Maintenance Shop 1
Vehicle Maintenance Shop 2

And the obligatory walk under a train, this time a Mark II. The peachy metallic thing in the middle is the linear induction motor, which reacts with the flat middle rail to propel the train forward.

Looking underneath a Mark II train.

Then we explored some other parts of the yard on foot. We visited the only level crossing on the entire SkyTrain system.

The only level crossing in the entire SkyTrain system.

I’m grateful for the HR team at A Thinking Ape where I work for putting this together for me (this experience was a reward for winning what we call a “Golden Banana” award, which is our quarterly employee recognition program). It was nice to see the modernization of the Control Room and be able to explore some different parts of the yard I had not had an opportunity to see last time.


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