Sound Transit has identified a handful of ways to reduce noise from Link light rail, which in sections has exceeded federal standards. To help address the problem, ST is doing or has done the following things:
- Later this month, ST will be grinding rails along most of the alignment to “create a smoother running service.” This work will take place at night starting on Monday and run through the end of the month, according to a rider alert.While the work is active, headways at night will be reduced from 10 minutes to 15-20 minutes and sometimes you’ll have to board your train at the opposite platform than usual. Sound Transit thinks that this may be related to the high-frequency noise from the trains that some have complained about.
- Next month (January 2010), track lubricating devices will be installed where Sound Transit has identified that wheel squeal is a problem.
- Over the next few months, two switch crossings in the Rainer Valley will be modified to have a smoother running surface which ST expected to reduce the “ka-thunk” sounds heard now.
- The volume of safety bells on trains and at pedestrian crossings on MLK, Jr. Way have been reduced, and train operators will no longer ring bells as long.
- Station loudspeakers have had their volume lowered, and they are now turned off after 10pm for all stations in the Rainer Valley.
It should be noted that rail grinding will have little effect on “hunting” (the left-right oscillation sometimes noticeable in faster sections in Tukwila). Phoenix’s light rail is experiencing the same issue, and it may be a combination of vehicle maintenance and track alignment.