Light rail trains finally tested on East Link tracks


You may have seen them already this week, but trams run on the East Link tracks.

This is the first phase of systems integration testing, where every system and backup system will be tested and refined before service begins in 2023. The first thing Sound Transit needs to do is ensure that the cars pass under all potential obstacles, such as overpasses.

“They have to use a real light rail vehicle that is towed by a road rail, one of those tractor trucks, which will tow the train along the tracks to assess the clearance on different parts of the alignment,” Rachelle said. Cunningham, Sound Transit spokesperson.

These large, wheeled rail trucks will be on the tracks to tow train cars between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., Monday through Friday, by November 19.

“They will run between the downtown Bellevue train station and the Redmond tech station,” Cunningham said. “Everywhere along this alignment, trains could be out there in either direction.

Engineers will then perform similar clearance testing between the International District station and Mount Baker station before moving on to testing on the lake later next year.

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The installation of real wagons on the tracks is an important step for the East Link project.

“We saw the tracks go up, but when you see the vehicle up there it really reminds you it’s not too far,” Cunningham said.

So what should the public know during this 10-day testing period?

Trains could be anywhere along the line from downtown Bellevue to the Microsoft campus. They will come to a halt, but Sound Transit has taken extra precautions to protect the public as there are sections in the Bellevue-Redmond area where the tracks are at ground level.

“There will be uniformed police officers there to direct traffic,” Cunningham said. “There will be signals, but it’s just something you’ve never seen before in this area.”

The East Link project, which will eventually be known as the # 2 Line, is slated to open in 2023, connecting downtown Seattle to the Microsoft campus. The extension in downtown Redmond is slated to open the following year.

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