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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Sound Transit purchases BNSF right-of-way to extend commuter-rail service


Earlier this week, Sound Transit finalized a deal under which the agency purchased a portion of the Lakeview Subdivision from Burlington Northern Santa Fe to eventually extend Sounder commuter-rail service to Lakewood, Wash.

Under a 2003 agreement, Sound Transit and BNSF officials determined the agency would acquire the subdivision in three sections. Last December, Sound Transit acquired some key BNSF properties, including potential station sites. Under the latest agreement, Sound Transit paid $13.4 million to acquire 6.5 track miles between the Tacoma Dome Station and Lakewood.

In September 2005, the agency and Class I expect to close on the final phase of the agreement, which will extend Sound Transit’s ownership to Nisqually and the Thurston County line.

BNSF will retain a freight easement so it can continue to operate along the right-of-way. Service to Lakewood is scheduled to begin in 2007.