For anyone looking to travel on Link this weekend, be prepared for spottier service as track maintenance will reduce trains to single-track running between SODO and Columbia City stations.  Sound Transit is finishing the installation of switch heaters near the OMF (Operations and Maintenance Facility).  The heaters will allow switches to be fully operational when snow and ice bring pandemonium during the winter months.

Service will be reduced from normal 10-15 minute headways to 20-30 minute headways.  Single-track running also means that only one platform will be used for both northbound and southbound trains at Mt. Baker and Beacon Hill stations.  ST will have signage and staff on hand to direct riders.  The service disruptions are expected to last from 10PM tonight through 5AM Monday morning.

17 Replies to “Link Service Spottier this Weekend For Maintenance”

  1. It is unprofessional and poor customer service that Link won’t publish a schedule for this low frequency service.

    Link must have a plan for assigning operators and equipment. They must know what headway can operate through the single track section. They should publish a schedule at least for endpoint departure times, and riders can extrapolate from there if need be – travel time from the endpoint to the start of the single track section should be similar to normal and predictable, so at least you can plan your departure.

      1. I posted a request for a schedule on the Sound Transit Facebook page. They replied that they cannot put a schedule that would be reliable enough. Any schedule would be better than having to just show up and have a potential 20-30 minute wait.

      2. If the improvements require the workers to be in the foul of both tracks in order to properly accomplish their assigned tasks and the nature of the work being done may preclude those workers from clearing whenever a train approaches, ST would be absolutely correct in stating that they cannot accurately provide a schedule of movements if trains are going to be delayed — or may not be delayed at all — because of the work.

      3. ST has to decide how many trains to run and operators to assign, give them breaks, etc. Are they really going to run trains whenever they please? They must have targets for when the trains are going to leave the endpoints and will operate at an ordinary rate to the single tracked area. There may be a variable delay from that point onward, but the endpoint departures could be fixed.

        If they can’t run on a scheduled basis, maybe they should bustitute it instead. Maybe they can complete the work faster that way, too.

      4. Information does seem to be Link’s weak point, doesn’t it?

        Maybe they need to hire an Information expert.

    1. Given two choices:

      1) Mobilizing for the work once and being able to make a continuous push through an entire weekend (some 55 consecutive hours) in the middle of spring, before the tourist season ramps up and while the Mariners are out of town, and as a result inconveniencing only one weekend of what might readily be called “average” ridership.

      2) Having limited night-only work windows strung out across a period of time, requiring repeated mobilization efforts and associated costs, along with the restriction of whatever nighttime noise-limiting ordinances may be in effect.

      For the sake of simple efficiency and cost-effectiveness, wouldn’t you choose option 1? Also, from a PR standpoint, what will generate more bad press: One weekend of reduced service or night after night of announcements about ongoing work and associated noise and whatnot and soforth?

      As an excellent example of making the compromise to inconvenience travelers for a short duration to avoid longer periods of perpetual delays, not to mention realizing substantial cost savings, I suggest reading up on Hyperfix, Indiana DOT’s innovative project which completely shut down two interstate highways through downtown Indianapolis for two months so that the roadways could be completely rebuilt. (In railroad terms, this would be considered a “maintenance blitz.”)

      1. That is awesome. Check out the “Evaluation of INDOT Hyperfix Project” from Purdue Joint Transportation Research Program

        “In 2003 the Indiana Department of Transportation executed an ambitious interstate reconstruction project in Indianapolis, named Hyperfix. This project completely closed the I-65/70 section during reconstruction, on which approximately 250,000 vehicles travel daily. Due to the scope and risk involved, an extensive amount of planning, coordination, and cooperation occurred.”

        “Hyperfix did impact the Indianapolis area. The primary impact was in traffic flow and the shift in traffic volume to local streets and volume added to I-465. Improvements to local streets along with a good public relations campaign and public transportation service helped to minimize congestion. Local businesses were not significantly impacted.”

        “Public transportation in this case was very successful. Existing capabilities were analyzed and new options added to the system to mitigate some of the traffic concerns.”

      2. By that measure, why not shut Link down from 8pm Saturday to 5am Monday and do it in one 33 hour push with no trains vs. running trains through the work area every 10-15 mintues over 55 hours on an unscheduled basis?

      3. London does stuff like that when it needs to do a lot of rail maintenance; it simply suspends a branch of a line for a weekend.

        I think it’s easier to do if there’s more redundancy in the system.

    2. I had heard that the reason Link trains couldn’t run 24 hours per day was due to track maintenance during the down time. Yet whenever they need to do work on the tracks, they take a track out of service during evening or weekend service hours.

      With 4 hours every night (1am – 5am), 55 hours of work could be accomplished about 2 weeks. Sounds more reasonable to be than rendering the system functionally useless for an entire weekend.

      1. Link doesn’t run 24 hours a day because of many MC reasons not just track related. Sometimes the OCS has to be de-energized, sometimes work may have to be done in the tunnels, etc. Regardless this work they are doing now affects something like 8-10 switches on both tracks and is rather complicated work that requires a lot of workers and it is easier to accomplish during the daytime.

      2. Switch work requires a continuous block of time. I suppose they would have needed a continuous block of time for each switch heater, probably more than four hours.

  2. Was there spotty service today? I just saw on KOMO TV that a girl was hit by a Link train today. Also, another DSTT robbery and beating.

  3. I agree with how ST handled this maintenance. They gave the public advanced notice. They told us what to expect and what not to expect. They paid attention to sporting event schedules, since that’s when the trains get crush-loaded. They didn’t prolong the agony of the neighborhoods next to the line any more than they had to.

    Only 20-minute headway? That’s more service than most get. There are many out there who are happy to have Sunday service at all.

    I look forward to ST getting the initial fixes done sooner rather than later, and maybe figuring out how to shave a minute or two off of travel time.

    On that note, is there any possibility that 200th St Station could get TIGER funding in the next round? … perhaps by selling such funding as a way to get South Link all the way to Federal Way TC? … and by selling the possibility of truncating most of the 577 and 59n routes at 200th St Station, which will be much closer to I-5 than any of the current south-end stations… so that Pierce County’s transit tax income can go to saving neighborhood service?

    I applaud ST for choosing the bold approach for Link maintenance.

  4. Rode Link from Airport yesterday. I did not see any signage about service disruptions this weekend. We sat on the track for about 10+ mins at the Columbia City station. We were told “Due to traffice ahead, we are experiencing delays.” That’s a shame because it might be individuals first time experiencing the Link.

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