Sound Transit in Seattle, Wash., has started rail and signal testing on more than eight miles of new track for its Sounder commuter rail extension to Lakewood.
Crews began running Sounder test trains up to 40 miles-per-hour from Freighthouse Square in Tacoma to the South Tacoma and Lakewood stations. Test train speeds will gradually increase to 60 miles-per-hour over several weeks as crews complete signal and crossing gate testing and monitor train operation on new rail lines.
“The start of testing marks an exciting milestone in our progress to bring Sounder service further south,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “Soon, more Pierce County residents will be able to take advantage of the first-class service Sounder provides along a 73-mile rail corridor and at a time when average weekday ridership on Sounder is up 20 percent, a record for our commuter rail program.”
In preparation for the increased train activity, the agency launched a safety education program earlier this year to raise public awareness about being smart and safe around newly active tracks. Sound Transit outreach teams continue to attend community fairs, visit schools and businesses and canvas door to door to remind people to be smart and safe around the tracks.