Sound Transit wasn’t able to perform scheduled track work last week because they had to run trains all night to keep the tracks thawed. So this Wednesday and Thursday take the hit instead. Best to be done with your rail travel by 8pm those nights.

Central Link Light Rail – Central Link light rail — delays

Central Link light rail will operate about every 30-45 minutes due to maintenance work at the following times:
* Wednesday, Dec. 1 from 8 p.m. – 1 a.m.
* Thursday, Dec. 2 from 8 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Maintenance will also temporarily close the southbound platform at the following stations:
* Beacon Hill Station
* Mt. Baker Station

38 Replies to “Last Week’s Link Maintenance, This Week”

  1. What exactly is this maintenance ST is doing? When they did work to reduce the noise problems, they let everyone know that was what they were doing. What are they doing now?

    And are they going to operate one-car trains with 30- to 45-minute headways? Or will they use 2-car trains on these two evenings with long headways? One car every 30 to 45 minutes is not much capacity.

    1. I’d love to hear more specifics about the work they’re doing as well. “Track maintenance” is becoming a tired phrase!

      1. How about “anti-derailment and non-carnage reactionary forces” being deployed to an undisclosed location. Feel Better?

      2. Is there a situation on LINK similar to the need to re-lay track in Portland on MAX near Union Station due to the original (winning low-bid) contractor having been a highway-builder with no railway experience?

  2. Another thing I would find interesting is: what headways did Link have to operate with when they ran all night during the snow event? Was one train per hour enough to keep ice from building up? 30-minute headways? Or what?

      1. That’s a fair comparison. Do you know if Link will be operating one-car trains on those nights with long headways? Or will they at least use 2-car trains?

      2. @ Norman we aren’t reference librarians. You can ask ST if it really matters that much.

    1. It is bad, but there’s a difference between doing it two days for maintenance vs doing it every day. The NYC subway shuts down tracks quite frequently in the evenings and weekends for maintenance, and reroutes subway lines on other tracks.

  3. I find this constant maintenance odd for a new system. When I lived in DC they somehow managed to maintain the system without drastically cutting back on service a couple of times a year. Maybe I was just oblivious but I certainly think I would have noticed service disruptions like this.

    1. This is starting to make me wonder, too. Why so much track maintenance? It seems to happen all the time, what are they doing?

  4. One of the things that I have started to notice is there is no consistency among the head ways every time there is maintenance work sometimes its 20 to 25 minutes others its 25 to 30 and it seems to be the headways are growing less frequent each time they do maintenance. I think that they should strive for a 30 minute headways even if they can have better headways and they they should say something like “Trains run every 30 minutes during track maintenance trains will depart from westlake and seatac station at X and Y minutes after the hour but be prepared for delays.”

    1. On nights when they promised 20-30 minute headways, I have waited 45 minutes… So I hope I won’t be waiting 60 minutes when I have to ride Link tonight.

      1. To follow up… I was lucky. I only waited about 4 minutes. But the train was jammed full. Not quite full when we left Westlake, but full by the ID station, with standing room only. So I think a lot of people had been waiting for a while. We waited at Sodo for a while as well, presumably waiting for the single track to clear to Beacon Hill.

  5. If ST can do all the track maintenance on Link while keeping one side of the track open (and I have no idea whether that is the case), I would gladly give up the frequent service the last two hours of the night in exchange for half-hourly or hourly (or more likely, following a schedule) service during the maintenance hours.

    To get half-hourly service, perhaps one train could use one track between Airport Station and Othello Station, and another train could use the other track between Othello Station and Stadium Station, with night owl buses awaiting the arrival in Stadium Station.

    During the last two hours of regular service, the tunnel could close earlier and routes make a point of connecting to Stadium Station.

    As a separate thought, I also wonder if maintenance could be shifted to Sunday through Thursday night in order to run frequent service overnight on Friday nights, Saturday nights, Christmas Eve/Day, and New Year’s Eve/Day.

    1. If I have to wait half an hour for a train, I might as well take the 124 or 7 instead. People don’t have an incentive to live and work near train stations if the train runs half-hourly, instead they have an incentive to drive and avoid the wait. 30-45 minutes is fine during occasional maintenance periods but not as a regular schedule. Otherwise it just postpones until the farther future a comprehensive transit system that looks attractive compared to cars.

    2. As someone who frequently has to ride Link late at night, I wouldn’t be too thrilled. It would probably get me driving home from work again if that was a regular occurrence. (I didn’t take the bus, before, for the same reason — not frequent enough at that time of night, and I feel safer not waiting a long time for the bus late at night.)

    3. If ST can do all the track maintenance on Link while keeping one side of the track open…

      It can be done in some places:

      During pre-revenue testing, I recall hearing a lot of track crews out and the control center required each train to acknowledge the location of the crews and to acknowledge that they would pass at no more than 5 mph.

  6. Also, was there a reason the trains running overnight during the blizzard could not be in revenue service?

    1. Liability? I’d bet that, since they were “maintaining” the system for revenue operation hours, they didn’t want to risk the possibility of a train or the system having an electrical problem while a trainful of passengers was on an elevated stretch of track in a blizzard.

      1. My understanding was that running trains reasonably frequently kept ice from building up on the wires and rails and allowed service to continue during the normal hours without any additional issues. Given that this only took maybe two operators, thats not a bad deal..

      2. I don’t think it was about liability, given that revenue service continued apace during normal revenue hours during the blizzard.

        Maybe they were afraid of all the whining about long delays and no schedule during the overnight period. Maybe those of us used to 1-hour headway bus routes need to outwhine the Shame-on-ST-for-making-me-wait-five-minutes whiners, and insist on a plausible explanation or that ST accept revenue riders when it runs overnight trains during bad-weather emergencies.

        I did bring this up at one of the open houses, and the only answer I got was that they hadn’t really thought about it.

    2. Coming to the defense of Brent, I’d point out that the Port of Seattle, in their on-going stellar management of Sea-Tac, had an “interesting situation” at the Bow Lake field with there being no Taxi cabs available that night, and the monopoly shared-van service refusing to take any passengers without advanced-reservations. In addition, many flights that had been scheduled to land before midnight did not arrive until after 1:00am. Thus arriving passengers without vehicles parked in the garages (not sure if even the private park-and-fly shuttles were running) had to either rent a car (if any were available), go get a hotel room (again, were their shuttle-vans running?) or wait until 4:00am to get out of the airport.

      I’d sure love to see some sort of agreement arranged between ST and PoS for any future occurrences of the above-mentioned scenario.

  7. Take the following suggestion with a grain of salt as I can not place all of the crosovers off the top of my head and hence stations mentioned may not work because of crosover issues ;)

    Why cant link run on a normal schedule between the airport and Columbia city, and between Westlake and Sodo durring the maintenance? Trains would run with modified signage defining the terminus it is heading towards. with 1 train every 30 minutes (in each direction) being designated as a through train? This would allow most of the system to keep it’s normal schedule, and only impact thoes people going through the tunel

    Lor Scara

    1. Running trains just between Westlake and SODO seems wasteful when so many buses go between downtown and SODO.

      But I have to second the idea of running trains on the limited segment south of the maintenance zone to the airport. That may be the seed of how ST manages emergency track blockages when the line grows to be much longer.

      1. “Running trains just between Westlake and SODO seems wasteful when so many buses go between downtown and SODO.”

        This would work only if there are signs at the stations telling people to take the 101/106/150 in lieu of Link to SODO, making those routes the official replacement service. Visitors and occasional suburbanite riders will not be familiar with those routes.

        In most transit systems, when a subway station is out of commission, there are trains running on both sides of it, and a designated bus bridge to the unfortunate station. Shutting down all the stations on one end of the target station would be unthinkable, as well as expecting passengers to just simply find other bus routes to the nearest functioning station.

  8. I guess all this maintenance they must be doing will prevent the trains and tracks from degrading to the level they have around here, to where here, the red line is so unreliable that I’ve chosen not to take it, because the bus is faster/more consistent, but it seems to me, that as many times as they do this, that they are creating a reliability issue with the large amount of maintenance they do during revenue hours, perhaps finding a happy balance….

  9. I think most of the nighttime maintenance work that they’ve been doing is related to quieting the “ka thunk” generated by the crossovers along MLK. It’s the last major noise-related issue that they have to fix. If they would have used swingnose or moveable-frog switches they wouldn’t have the noise issue, hopefully they’ve learned and will incorporate them in future lines.

      1. Longer hours perhaps on Fri and Sat night, but there will always be downtime overnight. Comes with having a 2 track system. This discussion goes all the way back to before opening day, and the reasons are well documented and have been posted many times.

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