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Updated Sunday, December 2, 2012 at 08:46 PM

Mudslides force more train cancellations

By The Associated Press

Runs of passenger trains between Seattle and Everett will be canceled until Tuesday morning after more mudslides fell this weekend, a BNSF Railway spokesman said.

Closing the tracks all day Monday marks at least the seventh day of closures for Amtrak and Sound Transit trains along this corridor since Thanksgiving, spokesman Gus Melonas said. Passenger-train service is now scheduled to restart at 4 a.m. Tuesday, he said.

Commuters can check soundtransit.org for updates, and for information about backup bus service southbound Monday morning and northbound late Monday afternoon.

Sounder trains between Everett and Seattle serve about 1,125 passengers each weekday.

BNSF had estimated the closure of tracks to Amtrak and Sound Transit trains would end Monday, but more mudslide damage occurred overnight Saturday as heavy rain soaked the Puget Sound region, pushing mud, rocks, trees and debris onto the tracks.

The downpours have soaked loosened dirt on the slopes — some as high as 150 feet — along the track that runs between the two cities.

BNSF crews have been mobilized to clean up debris, Melonas said. During the dry season, the railroad company built ditches, enhanced culverts and slide sensors, he added.

Freight trains will continue operating because they have a sturdier build, operate on a flexible schedule and don't carry passengers, Melonas said.

"The major difference between passenger trains as opposed to rail cars full of lumber is the human factor. We're not going to put the public in harm's way," he said.

A federal grant of $16 million is to be used to control mudslides, which should help lessen cancellations. Last year, slides caused cancellation of 70 train runs.

Information from Seattle Times archives was included.


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