A Sounder commuter rail train with Mt. Rainier in the distance
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Sounder south rolls under sunny skies and the shadow of Mt. Rainier

Midwest flooding, eastern Washington derailment lead to local Sounder delays

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In the latest incarnation of the butterfly effect impacting your commute, a freight train derailment 220 miles from Seattle and spring flooding in the Midwest may cause Sounder commuter rail delays for at least the next several days.

Far-reaching connections

Last Friday a Union Pacific freight train derailed near Ritzville, Wash., and the line is still closed for repairs.

Union Pacific traffic has been rerouted to Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) lines serving the ports of Seattle and Tacoma.

Those are the same lines that Sounder commuter rail trains operate on between Lakewood/Tacoma, Seattle and Everett.  

Meanwhile, major spring flooding through large sections of the Midwest has wreaked havoc with freight train traffic moving across the country.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe workers repair a section of track along the flooded Missouri River. Photo courtesy BNSF.
Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail workers repair a section of track along the flooded Missouri River. Photo courtesy BNSF.

This week the Federal Railroad Administration declared an emergency event from the flooding, which aims to speed up railroad recovery and repair efforts.

Why is this impacting Sounder commuters?

The ports of Seattle and Tacoma connect the entire United States to the world.

As two of the busiest West Coast ports for cargo coming in and out of China, the freight rail lines feeding these ports are already some of the most congested in the nation.

Because of the disruptions from the Ritzville derailment and Midwest flooding, we’re seeing capacity issues at the ports, rail yards and storage tracks throughout the region.

Normally predictable levels of freight traffic may move through in unpredictable waves, which causes delays for Sounder and other passenger rail services that use these same tracks.

Sound Transit and BNSF communications teams will do our best to keep customers aware of potential delays and alert riders as fast as possible when commuter trips are impacted.

The delays may impact both Sounder south and north lines.  

Sign up for rider alerts for Sounder south or Sounder north and follow Sound Transit on Twitter for the latest service information.

We thank you for your patience and marvel at how our local connections are an integral part of the global transportation network.

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