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5/30/2003



Rail News: Passenger Rail

Sound Transit, BNSF reach preliminary agreement to extend Sounder commuter-rail service


Sound Transit passengers soon will be able to take Sounder commuter trains from Seattle to Everett, Wash. — at least for the next 100 years.



Sound Transit recently reached a preliminary agreement with Burlington Northern Santa Fe to expand commuter-rail service to the new Everett Station. Sound Transit would pay BNSF $224 million, plus interest, to operate trains for four years. By year end, Sound Transit plans to operate one train in the morning and one in the afternoon, eventually operating four morning and four afternoon trains.



The agency also would pay BNSF $27 million, plus interest, to purchase or lease 21 track miles from Tacoma to the Thurston County line, enabling the agency to extend service to Southern Pierce County.



If approved by Sound Transit’s board and BNSF, the agreement would enable the Sounder commuter-rail corridor to expand more than 100 miles through three counties.



The preliminary agreement is a prerequisite for Federal Transit Administration to authorize final design for Seattle-to-Everett Sounder corridor improvements and stations.



Sound Transit and BNSF expect to negotiate details of the agreement during the next several months.


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