Sound Transit has announced that a mudslide between Seattle and Everett has occurred and Sounder North service will be canceled until Wednesday evening at the earliest. Amtrak service will also be canceled.

Northline Sounder service between Seattle and Everett is canceled for the evening commute on Monday, 11/19 because of mudslides.  Sounder northline trains will not be available until the Wednesday, 11/21 evening commute due to the 48 hour moratorium for passenger train service.

52 Replies to “Alert: Sounder North Canceled Due to Mudslide”

    1. Again? Oy.

      Maybe the state should pull the plug on Cascades to Vancouver, BC. If that happens, then it’s worth pulling the plug on Sounder North as well (the plan was definitely intended to have “synergy”). Of course the Empire Builder would have to go via Pasco.

  1. Fourty* commuters impacted, forced to have shorter commutes via the bus.

    * slight exaggeration intended

    1. I’d go for that. Check out the shallow water here. That’s just begging to be new waterfront property.

    2. If the small number of people that would benefit from that kind of engineering effort want to come up with a tax scheme for that development project, or if developers foot the bill themselves, they can knock themselves out. Don’t send my tax money there. I don’t know the precise history of the Denny Regrade, but let’s remember that it’s in one of the denser parts of Seattle and adjacent to the densest part of Seattle, where lots of people live and work and shop and play, and where the benefits and costs are distributed among a large number of people. It was done at a time when daily travel was more difficult and expensive than today. Here you’d be regrading a hill for the sake of proximity to what, exactly?

      1. Looking at the map, that’s about 12 million square feet of land available. Assuming you could platt that into 120’x30′ properties (adding a bit for roads), that’s 2,667 new homes that would fit. If you could sell them each for just $250k (I’d guess much more), that’s $667M in land sales, not counting all of the additional homes you could build on what is now wasted cliffside.

        I’m actually not proposing a government do this. Just find a developer with deep enough pockets and a vision.

    3. The Denny Regrade was done at a time that “Seattle” was little more than downtown, Pioneer Square, and First Hill. It was before the anti-urbanism wave, when the expected development was small-lot houses and high-density buildings, when everybody wanted downtown to be as big and impressive as possible, and when people in larger cities actually did their daily shopping downtown. It was also an era that didn’t think about environmental consequences of large-scale land reengineering.

  2. It’s a good thing they didn’t have the 103 extra free parking spaces to lure unsuspecting commuters to the station.

    1. This shows a problem with the BNSF-Sounder and BNSF-Amtrak contracts. If the coal trains are running, the passenger trains can run, and BNSF is pulling shenanigans.

      1. No, it’s called liability. One of those slides takes out a coal train, that’s one thing and likely insured to the hilt. But if an Amtrak Cascades gets hit and is full of passengers, multi-million dollar lawsuits ensue.

      2. It’s A) all about getting freight back on schedule ASAP. The mudslides muck up the BNSF schedule over Stevens Pass which is a critical choke point. B) Would you really want to be a passenger on a train that cued up for two hours waiting your turn to creep through the slide zone a 10 mph?

  3. Dayton St. @ Edmonds is flooded. Enough that that side of the parking lot has water up over curb height in the parking lot.

  4. It’s true that ST 510 Express bus is a faster ride to Seattle than Sounder Northline. But Sounder beats both ST and CT service from Mukilteo and Edmonds. Ferry passengers could really be ideal ridership market for Northline.

    But long-term, it really isn’t acceptable to have a whole passenger train line go down every time it rains. Discussion of Point Defiance bypass leaves me disappointed that so few modern rail activists appreciate the value of the beautiful train rides provided by a shoreline route.

    More discouraging is suspicion that same sensibility makes it so hard to get those miserable “wraps” off the windows of our buses. BTW- San Francisco is even worse. Both Muni buses and light-rail cars and whole Caltrain consists are wrapped over every inch of their surface.

    People who spend their whole ride looking at the scenery of their i-pad screen don’t, like the bandit says in the movie, “need your stinkin’ windows!”

    So I really am curious exactly what civil engineering needs to be done to run trains where nature provides such a beautiful ride for free. Maybe future freight belongs on a straight ugly corridor. Considering what present view out passenger windows is worth, I’d like to know what its guarantee would cost.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I’d go in the other direction. Sell that beautiful land for high-rent views and use the proceeds to build a fast, reliable bypass inland. Of course, I have a feeling it would cost much more to move the line than you’d make in land sales.

      1. The old NP line through Renton, Kirkland, Woodinville and points north WAS the slide-proof line to British Columbia. Buh-bye…

      2. “The old NP line through Renton, Kirkland, Woodinville and points north WAS the slide-proof line to British Columbia. Buh-bye…”

        Indeed. That line really should NEVER have been lost, it was a deeply stupid mistake.

      3. You mean the one-track line that may have been enough capacity a hundred years ago but is totally inadequate for frequent commuter rail much less commuter+mainline freight.

      4. Mike, it’s not so much the tracks, it’s the right-of-way. The right-of-ways were WIDE, plenty of room for lots of tracks.

      5. The Ballard branch, unfortunately, was lost *early*, being converted to the “Burke-Gilman trail”.

    2. Sure Mark (“Ferry passengers could really be ideal ridership market for Northline.”), aside from the fact that zero of them are in the ST taxing district.
      I guess were friend-raising instead of fund-raising.

      1. OK, I’ll do the math.
        At 3 cents sales tax on a latte for 600 daily riders, buying one per day, it would take 555 years to buy one railcar.

      2. They can ride Metro all they want, but we shouldn’t be running special service to accommodate them.

      3. Well put Shuyler.
        Access service cost Metro $50 a boarding. Sounder North cost ST about the same, counting depreciation (which is built into access contracts).
        State law requires Sounder to be competitive with existing express bus service. It’s not and has NO chance of ever coming close.
        But this is now a mute argument in light of ST Board voting unanimously to lease a parking lot for 5 years. We’ll see how well Sounder North has ‘matured’ in 2018, which is the new buzz word around Union Station for poorly performing services.

      4. You’re right mic, not marketing Sounder to ferry passengers and denying fare-paying customers from outside the ST district is sure to decrease Sounder’s operating cost. Good thinking there!

    3. Transit has to be effective. I don’t know whether the Point Defiance bypass is pretty or ugly, but if it’s effective I’m all for it.

      You know, bus wraps suck. And freewayside train lines suck, too, though I suppose it can be hard for politicians to sell a vision of anything else to people living in towns built around freeways. Anyway, of the criteria for train routing, scenery is Dead Fucking Last and always will be. The 510 isn’t just faster than Sounder from Everett, it’s more useful — and it would be even more more useful if it could go fast away from I-5 (motto: This Machine Kills Walkshed). People aren’t riding the train to see trees, they’re riding to go places where other people are — that’s the nature of cities. If we want effective transit to run some place beautiful then we need to build a beautiful city.

      That doesn’t mean a city that doesn’t look like a city, a city that hides itself behind empty plazas and mass-hiding and architecture by regulation and all the other crap anti-urbanists foist on us. It means a place where people with vision come together and do great things.

    4. Forget a new line somewhere else – raise the existing line so that slides run underneath – a healthier beach, immune to ocean rising, and maintains the view.

      1. Forgot to add you could walk underneath the tracks to access what is now privately owned and inaccessible beaches.

        Think raising the tracks up ten feet on a precast concrete/steel trestle.

    5. I’m with you. There is value in having an enjoyable, scenic ride. Ten extra minutes is a small price to pay to spend an extra hour on the waterfront, looking at the Olympics.

  5. Please tell me the Great Northern passenger train to Vancouver, British Columbia is not canceled for this Wednesday. And be truthful, for chris’ sake…

  6. For Wednesday, train # 510 would be cancelled, # 516 should run, barring any more mudslides.

  7. There has been 11 mudslides total so far. Passenger service is tentatively schedule to return on Wednesday the earliest, depending on further rain.

    1. According to a radio report I just heard, there were more mudslides today. Passenger service won’t resume before Thursday afternoon.

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