Sound Transit completes first phase of University Link testing

Publish Date

New video from operator's cab previews fast and frequent service that starts in early 2016

Sound Transit contractors have completed initial work to integrate and test University Link light rail signal and power systems as part of the push to open the extension in early 2016.

Over the past several months Sound Transit contractors have installed and tested new power, safety, train control and communications systems in most of the 3.1 miles of tunnels between Westlake Station in downtown Seattle and the University of Washington.

"University Link will be a game changer for commuters by connecting downtown Seattle and UW," said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. "The work that's wrapping up is clearing the way for an 8-minute trip, completely bypassing some of the worst traffic in the region."

The work included installing and testing new light rail control and safety systems for the entire light rail line. Workers also energized the new overhead lines in the University Link tunnels that power the trains.

A new video available online shows a view from the cab of a light rail train during testing as it made a run from Capitol Hill Station to the University of Washington Station.

U Link light rail train testing video here:

The $1.8 billion University Link light rail extension includes new stations at Capitol Hill and the University of Washington. The line is entirely underground and currently $150 million under budget and six to nine months ahead of schedule. A trip from UW to downtown will take 8 minutes bypassing some of the most congested traffic in the region. 

Over the next months contractors will remove the temporary wall and doors between the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT) and the University Link tunnels and install the last 600' of power and communication lines in that section. 

During the final phases of testing beginning this fall, all trains that operate during normal service hours will continue on to Capitol Hill and UW Station before returning south. All northbound passengers will still have to deboard at Westlake Station and the first station southbound will still be Westlake until the extension opens in early 2016. 

This final phase, also called "pre-revenue service testing," is necessary to familiarize operators with the new stations and ensure all systems are performing well.