Dozens of mudslides have buried the railroad tracks between Seattle and Everett, creating a major disruption for rail traffic and commuters who rely on Sounder service. Landslides on Puget Sound railroad tracks are reaching record levels. Almost daily, slides are slowing freight and knocking passenger service right off rails.
The latest happened at 2:40 a.m. and it started the clock on another delay for passenger service on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) line between Everett and Seattle s Carkeek Park.
Land and mud slides have shut that route down to passenger service for 10 days and it will stay that way at least until Monday.
BNSF officials say 40 to 50 slides big enough to affect rail traffic have covered the rails this season, making it the third worst slide season in 20 years. And it's early enough for more to pile up. One slide this month derailed a freight train; others have left tons of debris from the steep hillsides along the Sound piled up on the rails.
On Thursday BNSF took drastic action. Loggers were hired to brave the unstable slopes to cut trees they deemed risky. BNSF said geotechs advised them to cut the trees despite their roots' ability to stabilize the slope. The trees are just too dangerous to leave dangling at threatening angles over the rails.
Thousands of passengers have been forced to take buses instead of trains through the danger zone. The passenger closure means that's how Sounder commuters north of Seattle will have to get to work Friday and to the Seahawks game on Sunday.