• Seattle, Washington: Sound Transit

  • General discussion of passenger rail systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.
General discussion of passenger rail systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

  by Vincent
I think we can expect more cooperation between Sound Transit and Intercity Transit in the future.
[ST]CEO Joni Earl announced today that Michael Harbour, a 17-year veteran of Olympia's Intercity Transit, will join Sound Transit as Deputy CEO.
This won't bring Sounder trains to downtown Olympia, but perhaps it will eventually lead to better connections to Thurston County from King and Pierce counties.
  by lpetrich
So the D to M Streets Connection is now complete.

The next step is getting Lakewood to Nisqually ready for passenger service so that the Amtrak Cascades can be rerouted to Tacoma - Lakewood - Nisqually from the Pt. Defiance route. They're still in the planning process: WSDOT - Project - Rail - Tacoma - Bypass of Point Defiance

ETA: That could also be used by Sounder trains to Olympia.
  by lpetrich
Seattle South 200th Link breaks ground - Railway Gazette
South 200th Link Extension
This extension goes south of Sea-Tac airport, adding one additional station, the South 200th St. one. It should be done by late 2016, about when the northward University Link Extension will be done.

Checking on the University Link Extension, its tunnels are now done and its builders have now gotten to installing its rails.

About the Seattle Streetcar: First Hill Streetcar: Construction Starts 2012, half of the track is now done, the half north of Jackson St. But Seattle Streetcar: First Hill Streetcar: Broadway Extension is already in planning.

So Seattle will get two disconnected streetcar lines.
  by Arlington
Is any of the "August 2013" Update on the Point Defiance Bypass actually new "news" since the FONSI was first issued in March? Update Page now reads:

August 2013: The Point Defiance Bypass now has its FONSI (Finding of No Significant [environmental] Impact) made official:
http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/rail/pnwrc_ptdefiance/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

WSDOT’s project team will now advance design work and expects construction to begin in 2015 and open the new route to service in 2017.
  by Vincent
Design work always seems to be the longest part of the process. The only real construction news in the Cascades corridor is that work has begun on two mudslide prevention projects near Everett. The projects should be complete by October, just before the rainy season begins. There are at least 4 more projects that will be done by 2015.
  by Mike630
I’m planning on visiting the Seattle metro area. I’m wondering whether there is any fare option allowing unlimited rides on the light rail, commuter rail and trackless trolleys. I found some information saying that return light rail ticket serves as a one-day unlimited pass. Is that true? If yes, is it valid on the King County system (incl. trackless trolleys) too?
  by Vincent
A LINK round trip ticket serves as an all day pass but it's valid only on the light rail line. If you are going to take more than a few rides on public transportation, it would be smart to buy an ORCA card which allows transfers between the different buses, light rail, the streetcars, the ferries and Sounder trains. If you don't have an ORCA card, a transfer from light rail to a bus would require paying 2 fares, but with an ORCA card the transfer is free. There is a $5 charge for the ORCA card, but you will save that amount after a couple of transfers. Metro Transit, the bus operator in King County (Seattle), issues paper transfers, but they are only valid for transferring to another Metro bus.
  by Mike630
Thanks for your help! I was also wondering whether it is possible to find anywhere a detailed Central Link light rail schedule. I know it runs relatively frequently, but still, I’d like to have exact timings when exploring the line.
  by Vincent
Ahhhh, another search for the "detailed Central Link light rail schedule". You might as well plan a search for the Sasquatch because there is no such thing! ST has never published a schedule for Link and doesn't plan on publishing one in the future. Link runs on headways: 7.5 minutes in the peak hours, 10 minutes midday and evenings, 15 minutes early morning and late night.

If you are planning to catch an early flight out of Seattle (before 7am), check the Link schedule carefully--the first train from downtown doesn't arrive at SEA until 544am. There are trains leaving from SODO station that arrive earlier at the airport, but you would have to walk or take a taxi to SODO station.
  by lpetrich
Seattle digs deep for light rail | Railway Track & Structures (9 Dec 2013)
"The project is going fantastic," said Gray.

He attributes the well-executed mining with the project currently being more than $100 million under budget and six months ahead of schedule.

According to Gray, the project overall is 80-percent complete with U-Link's rail systems still being installed and its two stations still under construction.

"One [station] is about 80-percent complete and the other is about 25 percent. The one behind is the one where we had all the TBMs converging, so they couldn't get started on their station finishes as early as the other one," said Gray.
The stations are Capitol HIll (where the TBM's had been converging) and University of Washington.

Construction of the Northgate Link Extension has started. It will continue northward from the UW station to stations at the University District (NE 45th St.), Roosevelt High School (NE 65th St.) and Northgate (NE 103rd St.). It will run in bored tunnels from the UW station to a portal at NE 94th St. These tunnels will be bored by 3 TBM's (Tunneling for Northgate Link), as the University Link tunnels were, and I think that they will be bored by the same TBM's as were used for those now-bored tunnels. Even the tunnel-boring schedules look similar. Two TBM's boring at the same time between UW and some intermediate station, and one TBM boring one tunnel and then the other for the rest of the route.

The route north of NE 94th St. will be elevated, and the extension should be done by 2021.

There is a fourth TBM now in Seattle, one that is digging a replacement for the Alaskan Way viaduct: Alaskan Way Viaduct - Tunneling (Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel - Wikipedia) Its diameter is 57.5 feet, large enough to dig a multiple-track tunnel. The Seattle light-rail tunnels being dug are likely all single-track ones.

Elsewhere, the East Link Extension is now in "final design".

Construction continues on the First Hill Streetcar route, and it should open by the middle of this year. The Broadway Extension is a planned northward extension from the FHS's north end for about 6 to 8 blocks. The Seattle Streetcar: First Hill Streetcar: Broadway Extension is another planned extension, one that will connect the South Lake Union and the First Hill lines. They've decided on a route from the southwest end of the First Hill streetcar line north in 1st Ave. and northeast in Stewart St. / Olive Way or nearby to the south end of the South Lake Union line.
  by lpetrich
Seattle Streetcar: First Hill Streetcar: construction is now "substantially complete", and Sound Transit is now acquiring vehicles from its Czech manufacture. Four of them will be assembled in the Czech Republic and three of them in Seattle. Six of them will be in the First Hill line, and the seventh in the South Lake Union line.

Sound Transit expects to start testing the vehicles and training the operators in September.

Sound Transit launches first Northgate Link TBM | Railway Track & Structures On July 9, it was launched from just south of the Northgate Transit Center. It will tunnel about 3.5 miles to the University of Washington station. It will be joined by a second TBM in October, one that will dig the route's other tunnel.

The Northgate Line is due to open in 2021.

Tacoma Link Expansion Chugs Forward
Sound Transit engineers are now working on the details of the Tacoma Link expansion route that will extend the light rail from the Theater District to Martin Luther King Jr. Way and the heart of the Hilltop. ...

Sound Transit has already pledged $50 million, with another $50 million expected to come from federal grants and another $50 million from local partnerships and city dollars potentially from parking revenues, Local Improvement District tax collections or other sources. The project is expected to cost about $165 million.
It will go north from Theater District Station at the north end of the existing 1.6-mi route, then west on Division Ave., then south on MLK Way. Its length will be about 2.4 miles.
  by lpetrich
There's a certain problem with opening the First Hill line. The vehicles for it are not ready yet.
Delivery of the vehicles is behind schedule, but several vehicles are now nearing completion, with initial deliveries expected in December and the entire fleet expected to be ready for operation in early 2015. Once we have thoroughly tested the system with these new streetcars, we will hold a grand opening event. Be on the lookout for more information in the coming months!
  by lpetrich
Sound Transit launches second Northgate Link tunnel boring machine | Railway Track & Structures On November 20.

The first one got named Brenda, but I haven't found the second one's name. It has been advancing about 28 feet/day, and at that rate, it will complete its 3.6 miles of tunneling in about 22 months. That's May 2016 for the first one and September 2016 for the second one.

At Sound Transit's site:
First Northgate Link tunnel boring machine launches - SoundTransit
Sound Transit launches second Northgate Link tunnel boring machine - SoundTransit

In the meantime, University Link is 87.2% done, and Northgate isn’t far behind | The Urbanist. Of the University Link work remaining to be done, the Capitol Hill station is about 2/3 done, the University of Washington station is nearly all done, and track, power systems, signals, and the like are about half done.

About the Northgate tunneling, Brenda should reach Roosevelt station early in 2015, after about 1.5 miles of tunneling. All the tunneling should be done by 2017.
  by lpetrich
Transit-tunnel machine reaches daylight at Roosevelt Station | The Seattle Times
Tunnel Boring Machine Brenda has punched through that station's north wall. It will be moved forward with jacks, and it will enter the ground again at that station's south wall, to continue onward to the University of Washington. It has progressed as much as 100 feet per day.

Its companion TBM, Pamela, should reach this station this summer. This extension, the Northgate extension, is on track to open in 2021.

The Hwy. 99 TBM, Bertha, however, continues to await repairs.
Capka said perhaps the most challenging part lies just ahead — to dig cross-passages called adits between the twin tubes, for maintenance and emergency access. During the Capitol Hill Tunnel project in 2013, the soil broke at Montlake and water poured into a cross passage, requiring six months of groundwater pumping. That tunnel will open to trains in early 2016, connecting Westlake Station, Capitol Hill, and the University of Washington.
  by lpetrich
More delay for First Hill Streetcar puts open date after July Block Party | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle
It may be time to add the First Hill Streetcar to the list of Seattle transit projects facing serious setbacks. After the Seattle Department of Transportation pushed back the launch date from fall 2014 to “early” 2015, CHS has learned that the SDOT now expects the Capitol Hill-to-Pioneer Square streetcar won’t be in service until at least August. ...

The six streetcars for the First Hill line were planned to be ready by October 7th as per the $26.7 million contract with SDOT. According to SDOT, Czech manufacturer, Inekon, had incurred a backlog of orders and a short supply of parts, including brakes, which was holding up production. Inekon, which built the South Lake Union streetcars, was also working out a wiring design issue.

Three of the six trains were undergoing final assembly in Seattle, while three others remained in the Czech Republic. According to SDOT, production in the Czech Republic was on hold until assembly and testing is finished in Seattle.
City trying to get First Hill Streetcar moving | The Seattle Times
The carrots and sticks in the new contract include Seattle forgiving some $150,000 in late-delivery penalties, while promising stiffer penalties if Inekon lapses in June. ...

On the bright side, Inekon trains have a solid reputation for quality, with few if any breakdowns along the South Lake Union line over their first seven years.
However, Battery Drive System Impresses in First Test of New Streetcars (MSWord docx)
In addition to testing acceleration and braking, the performance tests featured off-wire operation powered by a rechargeable battery system, known as the On-Board Energy Storage System (OESS). ...

The OESS was developed for the First Hill Streetcar to reduce overhead wire conflicts with the Metro trolley bus system. Several other cities plan to use battery drive to avoid overhead conflicts (such as bridge overpasses), save energy costs, or limit the visual impact of overhead contact systems. A similar system has been in use in Nice, France since 2007.
It has two extensions that are still in planning. The Broadway Extension will extend the First Hill Streetcar northward from its north end, and the Center City Connector will connect the First Hill Streetcar and the South Lake Union Streetcar lines, running mainly in 1st Ave.
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