Rails going in Northgate train tunnels
It's exciting times at the portal to the Northgate light rail tunnels where contractors are welding 80 foot long rail "sticks" together to haul into the tunnels beneath the University of Washington and Roosevelt neighborhoods. The Northgate Link light rail extension is on schedule to open in 2021with stations at Northgate, the Roosevelt neighborhood and the University District. Here's a few fresh pictures from the last couple weeks of work.
The rails are delivered in 80-foot-long "sticks" and stacked in place to be welded together into 560-foot-long and 800-foot-long sections. Each stick weighs about 3,000 pounds.
Workers grind the rail sides near the joints before they move on to the next station for welding.
Simple rollers on wood frames make it easier to roll the rails into place for welding.
The next step involves lining up the ends of two sticks to be joined together inside the automated "flash butt" welding machine.
With the rails lined up, the flash butt welding machine joins them in minutes and the connected section is rolled on toward the tunnels.
Workers grind away the small amounts of excess materials left from the welding process, check the weld and roll the stick down the line.
Inspecting the weld.
Closeup look at the final weld.
The rails, now in 560 to 800-foot-long sections, are pulled into the tunnels where they will be installed over the next several months.