Rider Alert

From the news alert:

Nighttime light rail track work June 28-30

Starting on Monday, June 28 and lasting until Wednesday, June 30, from 10 p.m. – 1 a.m. each night, Central Link light rail will operate every 20-25 minutes instead of every 10-15 minutes due to track maintenance.

The work will also temporarily close one platform at Columbia City Station Monday night from 10 p.m. – 1 a.m. Riders boarding at Columbia City may be directed to the opposite platform.

11 Replies to “RIDER ALERT: Nighttime light rail track work June 28-30”

  1. Just curious, why can’t they do this when the trains are not in service between 1 am and 4 am? It would seem way easier to if they did this since they wouldn’t have to reroute the trains.

    1. I would imagine that they’re probably actually working until 4:00 a.m.. 3 hours isn’t very much time to get set up, do work, and then get everyone clear for the morning rush.

      1. Sign in the window of a rail grinding machine:
        Help Wanted – Part Time
        Experience a plus

      2. Right, Zed. The work schedule is 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. on each of the three nights. We are regrinding the rails, in the noisiest locations, using a different technique than was used last December. Goal of course being to reduce train noise, especially in Tukwila where some of the December grinding actually made the noise worse.

      3. ST Guy; Sacramento had a similar problem with noise and truck hunting when their system opened. They found out that they had to not only re-grind the rails to a different profile, but also change the profile of the wheels on their LRVs. Has ST looked at using a different wheel profile? It seems like the truck hunting and noise through Tukwila varies a lot from train to train, which might indicate that its a wheel or truck problem. I’d be curious if you had any more info about it.

      4. ST Guy, from what you know about the rail downhill from Tukwila, can you explain to the readers exactly why, since opening day, the ride-quality has been so bad along that stretch of track, and what plans Sound Transit has to smooth it out?

        I’m trusting that there isn’t any derailment hazard- though as a frequent passenger, I can tell you that sooner or later a passenger is going to have a reportable fall from one of those sudden lurches. But mostly, it’s embarrassing to have that much discomfort-at that elevation-as part of a visitor’s first impression of our brand new system.

        And of Seattle. Some technical perspective would be much appreciated.

        Mark Dublin

      5. The issues is that the direct fixation (DF) does not offer a smooth ride like ballasted track or embedded rails. Both those have a spongy base that allows energy to be absorbed by the roadbed. DF has very little to no give, so the guideway must be perfect. The biggest issue is that between the guideways construction and when the trains started rolling, the guideway settled a little in different places. This caused a height difference between the two running rails. In some places, it was up to a quarter of an inch, which caused the trains to bounce horrifically (as we still feel).

        In June, before the Link was open to the public, I went out there to watch them fix the problem. It is a VERY labour intensive process as the track has to be unbolted from the guideway, lifted and leveled with a special jack and leveling tools, shimmed appropriatly, and then bolted back down. In an 8 hour work window, they were able to level about 400′ of the worst stuff. Sadly, this issue can never really be fixed as there is only a 3-hour window (Link Ops needs an hr on each side of closure to deenergize and reenergize the OCS) to fix this at nights and no trains can be operating on either track while this is done (so it can’t be done during late night). Before it opened, “certain people” in ST wouldn’t give the track crews more time to fix the issue because they wanted to run the trains, rather than fix all the track problems. The head of ops was furious that “these people” would sacrafice ride quality pretty much forever forever rather than delay opening a week to solve the problem.

        I, personally, have been thrown from my center-facing seat on vehicle 112, A end, going down the elevated section towards Tukwila. it’s a nasty ride.

  2. Out of curiosity, does Sound Transit own it’s own rail grinder, is is it leased? I heard Portland is currently leasing one, and it’s costing a pretty penny.

    1. It’s my understanding that BNSF doesn’t even own it’s own rail grinder. They contract out the work to a couple of companies nation wide that perform this specialized work. You just don’t (or shouldn’t have to) do this often enough to own the equipment. It’s expensive because the equipment is uber expensive to buy and maintain and you need enough work to keep a crew in business.

  3. Heh, you guys keep grinding the rails this often pretty soon you wont have any rails left to grind!

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