Mudslides halt passenger train service

EVERETT — Two mudslides in Snohomish County early Wednesday morning halted train service between Everett and Seattle.

Freight trains were back in service by 9:45 a.m., but passenger service won’t resume for two days.

The slides over the Burlington Northern Sante Fe tracks were in an area hugging the waterfront in the south Everett area, officials said. The first slide occurred around 3:30 a.m.

One slide was about 7 feet deep and 30 feet wide, BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said. The second one was of similar size. Debris included rocks, mud and a tree that was between 35 and 45 feet long.

Crews using a crane were at the first slide site within an hour, Melonas said.

The rail line between Seattle and Everett is one of the busiest in the nation, according to the Burlington Northern Sante Fe website.

Sounder commuter trains, Amtrak passenger trains and BNSF Railway Co. freight trains all use the 30-mile-long corridor.

Sound Transit commuter service likely won’t resume until Friday.

“There is a 48-hour safety rule” after a slide, Sound Transit spokeswoman Kimberly Reason said.

The average daily number of passengers is 874 on weekdays on the north line Sounder route, Reason said.

Northline riders can check www.soundtransit.org for detailed bus schedules, or call the toll-free service hotline at 888-889-6368.

Two weeks of rain combined with freezing and thawing caused the slide, Melonas said.

“We anticipated there would be some movement in the slopes,” he said. “We will continue to monitor the situation.”

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com.

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