Sound Transit agreement to extend Sounder to Everett

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Sound Transit achieved a major milestone this morning with the announcement of a preliminary agreement to start running popular Sounder commuter trains to Everett this year.

Sound Transit and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, with the help of U.S. Senator Patty Murray, announced the preliminary agreement during a special ceremony at the new Everett Station. The agreement also gives Sound Transit the option to purchase 21 miles of track from Tacoma to the Thurston County line, clearing the way for expansion of Sounder service from Everett all the way to Southern Pierce County. The agreement reached with the railroad will last into the next century - providing the right to run Sounder trains through the year 2100.

The extension of Sounder from Everett to Seattle's King Street Station will include a stop at a temporary platform in Edmonds and eventually a stop in Mukilteo, when track improvements are made and a permanent station is built there. The preliminary agreement calls for one train trip in the morning and one returning trip in the afternoon, to be running by the end of this year. Then, as track and signal improvements are completed, Sound Transit will operate up to eight trains a day: four to Seattle from Everett in the morning and four to Everett from Seattle in the afternoon.

The announcement, made this morning in a special ceremony at the new Everett Station, included comments from Senator Murray, Board Chair Ron Sims, Snohomish County Executive Bob Drewel, Congressman Rick Larsen and BNSF Vice-president of Government Affairs Skip Endres.

Final details of the agreement, which will be negotiated over the next three to four months, will be subject to approval by the entire Sound Transit Board and BNSF. Sound Transit will pay the railroad a total of $224 million, plus interest, over four years for the right to run eight trains between Seattle and Everett. In addition, Sound Transit will pay BNSF $27 million, plus interest to purchase and/or lease the 21-mile Tacoma-to-Nisqually section of track.

The preliminary agreement will enable the Sounder commuter rail corridor to expand in the future to more than 100 miles through three counties, possibly including rail service to DuPont and points south.

This preliminary agreement is also a prerequisite for the Federal Transit Administration to authorize the final design for the Sounder Seattle to Everett corridor improvements and stations.
The track and signal improvements resulting from the agreement will also increase capacity for freight traffic on the railroad line, benefiting the ports of Everett, Tacoma and Seattle and contributing to the economic vitality of the region.

Sounder commuter rail service between Tacoma and Seattle began in September 2000 and currently serves about 14,000 passengers per week with three round-trips each weekday. When track and signal work is completed in 2005, commuter rail service between Tacoma and Seattle will be expanded to nine round trips.

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Sound Transit plans, builds and operates regional transit systems and services to improve mobility for Central Puget Sound.