Sounder commuter rail


Two Sounder trainsets at King Street Station in Seattle
Owner Sound Transit
Locale Seattle metropolitan area
Transit type Commuter rail
Line number 2
Number of stations 12
Daily ridership 16,504 (May 2016)[1]
Annual ridership 3,812,040 (2015)[2]
Website Sounder Rider Guide
Began operation September 18, 2000 (2000-09-18) (South Line)
December 26, 2003 (2003-12-26) (North Line)
Operator(s) BNSF Railway
Reporting marks SDRX
System length 83 mi (134 km)
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)
System map

Sounder commuter rail (reporting mark SDRX) is a regional rail service operated by BNSF on behalf of Sound Transit.[3] Service operates Monday through Friday during peak hours from Seattle, Washington, north to Everett and south to Lakewood. As of 2015, schedules serve the traditional peak commutes, with most trains running inbound to Seattle in the morning and outbound in the afternoon. Two daily round-trips run the "reverse commute" to and from Tacoma.[4] Additional Sounder trains operate on some Saturdays and Sundays for travel to and from Seahawks and Sounders games at CenturyLink Field and Mariners games at Safeco Field. Both stadiums are a short walk from King Street Station.

Service history

South Line

The South Line began service with two round trip trains on September 18, 2000 with stops in Tacoma, Sumner and Auburn that terminated in Seattle. Puyallup and Kent stations were added February 5, 2001; with Tukwila being added March 12, 2001. There are currently nine round trips on the South Line,[5] with two operating in the reverse commute direction. This is the maximum number of trains permitted under Sound Transit's original contract with BNSF, whose tracks the trains run on.

In July 2010, Sound Transit reached a new agreement with BNSF, valued at $185 million, which grants Sound Transit permanent access to the South Line corridor, as well as allowing four more daily round trips to begin, starting in 2012 and continuing through 2015.[5]

On October 8, 2012, the extension to South Tacoma and Lakewood stations was inaugurated,[6] with five daily round trips, all of which are in the peak direction, serving the new stations.[7]

The average weekday ridership in 2010 on the South Line was 8,300, down 7% from 2009 due to continued low employment in Downtown Seattle. Since then the average ridership has increased and as of October 2015 stood at 14,500 per day.[8]

North Line

The 35-mile (56 km) Everett-to-Seattle line started with a Seahawks Game train on December 21, 2003. Regular service started on the 22nd with one morning train to Seattle and one evening train back. A second round trip train was added on June 6, 2005 to help increase ridership, a third was added in September 2007. In September 2008, an additional train was added to the line, bringing the total number to four round trips in the peak direction. There are currently three stops along the North Line: Edmonds, Mukilteo, and Everett. On May 31, 2008, the Mukilteo station opened and trains started stopping at the station.[9][10]

Additionally, Sound Transit partners with Amtrak Cascades to allow Sounder riders to use the two trains per day that Amtrak Cascades operates to Bellingham, WA and Vancouver, BC through the RailPlus program. This allows commuters to use the Sounder fare structure between Everett and Seattle. The program is available only to riders who use monthly passes. The Amtrak Cascades trains do not stop at Mukilteo nor does Amtrak's Empire Builder from Chicago, Illinois.

Weekday ridership on the North Line was roughly 1,100 in 2010.[11] and remains about the same in 2013. Trains on the North Line has been prone to frequent cancellation due to mudslides throughout its history,[12] though WSDOT has begun construction to remedy the problem.[13]

Future planning

Amtrak Cascades will also benefit from this project, as it is an integral part in the Point Defiance Bypass route currently planned by WSDOT.

Due to the passage of 2008's regional Proposition 1, platform length extensions, up to four additional South Line round trips, and potential stations at Ballard and Broad Street on the North Line are in planning.

Edmonds Station renovation includes a new east platform with larger passenger loading area and weather protected passenger shelter. The parking area will be updated, improved lighting will cover the platforms and parking, secure bike storage will be available and public art is ready for installation. The project will also construct a transit center at the north end of the station to accommodate Community Transit bus service with two passenger shelters and three bus bays. Once a second mainline has been added by the railway in the future, a new west platform will be constructed and the north portion of the east platform will be completed. This project is currently underway and expected to complete in early 2011.


Model Manufactured Road Numbers Number In Fleet Notes Image
EMD F59PHI 1999 901–904 4
2000 905–906 2
2001 907–911 5
MotivePower MP40PH-3C 2012 921–923 3
Cab Cars
Bombardier BiLevel Cab Car 1999 101–104 4
2000 105–111 7 112–118 sold to Caltrain.[14]
2003 301–307 7
2017 321–329 (9) Delivery expected in mid-2017.[15]
Bombardier BiLevel Coach 2000 201–213 13
2001 214–215 2
2002 216–218, 227–228, 231–240 15 219–226 & 229–230 sold to Caltrain.[14]
2003 401–410 10
Sources (unless noted otherwise):[16][17]


  1. "May 2016 Service Performance Report" (PDF). Sound Transit. July 7, 2016. Retrieved July 16, 2016.
  2. "Service Delivery: Quarterly Performance Report - Fourth Quarter, 2015" (PDF). Sound Transit. February 25, 2016. Retrieved February 25, 2016.
  3. "Sounder Commuter Rail Train Specifications". Sound Transit. 2009-07-18. Retrieved 2008-02-10.
  4. Sound Transit: Sounder Commuter Rail Schedules
  5. 1 2 "Sound Transit approves four new Seattle-Tacoma round trips". Trains Magazine. 23 July 2010. Retrieved 23 July 2010.
  6. "October 2015 Ridership Summary" (PDF).
  7. Pesznecker, Scott (May 31, 2008). "Sounder begins service to Mukilteo today". Everett Herald. Everett Herald. Retrieved 2008-05-31.
  8. "Mukilteo Station". Sound Transit. 2008-02-10. Retrieved 2008-02-10.
  9. 2011 SIP, page 26
  10. "Mudslides continue to plague rail traffic north of Seattle".
  11. "Work starts on landslide solutions for Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor".
  12. 1 2 "Sound Transit Motion No. M2001-72" (PDF). Sound Transit.
  13. "2017 Draft Service Implementation Plan" (PDF). Sound Transit. October 2016. p. 59. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  14. "Draft 2015 Service Implementation Plan - Appendix B: Fleet Plans" (PDF). Sound Transit. p. 112. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  15. "Sound Transit". Canadian Public Transportation Discussion Board Wiki. Retrieved 20 December 2014.

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