Trains without passengers start running on Northgate Link segment

Sep 2, 2021, 8:19 AM | Updated: 9:20 am
Northgate light rail, Sound Transit...
Northgate's light rail station is currently in the testing phase. (Photo courtesy of Sound Transit)
(Photo courtesy of Sound Transit)

Empty light rail trains will start running on the new track from the University of Washington to Northgate every eight minutes during peak hours, in each direction.

When the extension opens one month from now, on Oct. 2, it will take passengers 14 minutes to get from Northgate to downtown Seattle.

“The sight of trains running at regular intervals is a reminder of just how close we are to the opening of the Northgate Link extension,” said Peter Rogoff, Sound Transit CEO. “Starting October 2, everyone will be able to enjoy fast, traffic-free rides from Northgate to downtown Seattle and beyond.”

The trains without passengers are part of the pre-revenue service, which is a period of training to make sure that stations, tracks, utilities, escalators, elevators, systems and vehicles all work as expected.

During the testing, most riders won’t see a difference, but riders at the UW station will notice that instead of using both tracks to board trains, riders will board at the southbound track only and the northbound track will be drop-off only.

Trips between Capitol Hill and the UW will be a little faster as well, as trains will no longer have to slow down to switch tracks just south of the university.

Light rail prepares for new line numbers, names, and colors

Most of the 4.3-mile long extension is underground, except for the 0.8 mile stretch of elevated track leading into the Northgate station. The two other new stops along the extension — in Seattle’s University District and Roosevelt neighborhoods — are underground.

Starting Oct. 2, there will also be changes coming to transit service from King County Metro. This will include updated connections to the three new Sound Transit Link light rail stations, the return of 36 suspended routes, and restored service on a total of 48 routes across the county. In all, Metro is changing 116 of 194 bus routes. Find details on Metro’s service change webpage here.

The KIRO Radio Newsdesk contributed to this report.

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Trains without passengers start running on Northgate Link segment