Track and signal testing begins for Sounder extension to Lakewood

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Start of testing marks milestone as agency runs non-passenger trains to test new rail lines, calls for safety around newly active tracks

Sound Transit announced today the start of rail and signal testing on more than eight miles of new track for its Sounder commuter rail extension to Lakewood.

Starting today, crews began running Sounder test trains up to 40 miles per hour from Freighthouse Square in Tacoma to the South Tacoma and Lakewood stations. Test train speeds will gradually increase to 60 miles per hour over several weeks as crews complete signal and crossing gate testing and monitor train operation on new rail lines.

"The start of testing marks an exciting milestone in our progress to bring Sounder service further south," said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. "Soon, more Pierce County residents will be able to take advantage of the first-class service Sounder provides along a 73-mile rail corridor, and at a time when average weekday ridership on Sounder is up 20 percent - a record for our commuter rail program."

Test trains will operate as often as every 30 to 60 minutes between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and will consist of a full Sound Transit seven-car set and locomotive.
Freight and other rail traffic will continue operating on the rail line during and after testing.

In preparation for the increased train activity, the agency launched a safety education program earlier this year to raise public awareness about being smart and safe around newly active tracks. Sound Transit outreach teams continue to attend community fairs, visit schools and businesses, and canvas door to door to remind people to be smart and safe around the tracks.

"As a longtime resident of Lakewood, I am proud of the work Sound Transit is doing to bring Sounder service to Lakewood - and to make sure that people who drive, bike and walk near our tracks know more trains are coming," said Sound Transit Boardmember and Lakewood City Councilmember Mary Moss. "Trains are fast and quiet, so everyone needs to take extra caution to obey all warning signs, look both ways, and pay special attention when crossing the tracks."

The agency plans to launch service in October, with the specific date to be determined as testing progress is made.

More information on the Sounder extension to Lakewood is available at www.soundtransit.org/soundertolakewood.