Four months ago I told you about large, but deliberately vague, plans for South Sounder if ST3 passes. At the time, the DuPont extension and facilities for 10-car trains were quite specific. However, plans for station access were, as usual, left open pending extensive post-election consultation with communities. Most importantly, the number and timing of additional train trips was unknown. Indeed, Sound Transit officials couldn’t even speculate, given the delicate negotiations with BNSF.
Regrettably, those negotiations are still going on. Spokesman Geoff Patrick says “the work with BNSF will be too involved to complete or speculate about prior to November.” It’s not just debates around a table, but staff work and simulations to show that a given level of investments can support a given level of passenger service without unduly disrupting freight traffic.
Helpfully, he shared the language about Sounder improvements in the ST3 plan:
…depending on affordability and cost-effectiveness, track and signal upgrades and other related infrastructure will provide capacity for additional trips. Sound Transit will negotiate with BNSF Railway Company and affected organizations for additional trips to serve growing ridership along the Sounder south line, within available financial resources. Consistent with the financial policies, available financial resources remaining after funding cost-effective additional train trips will be reallocated to pay for other capital and/or service improvements that are deemed to best provide additional frequent and reliable high-capacity transit service in the same corridor or subareas.
So the intent is clear, if the details are not.