Seattle has rather significant passenger operations with the Souther Commuter Rail service, Amtrak's regional Cascades service and the termination of two Long Distance services, the Empire Builder and Coast Starlight. These services are centered about the City's King Street Station.
In this section I will start at the Olympic Sculpture Park and move south along the Great Northern tunnel under downtown to King Street Station with a short trip south to the sports complex.
You can view the entire set of photos here in alphabetical order.
We begin at twilight on my first day. While the sculpture park did spell the death of the Waterfront Streetcar, it does contain some pretty cool sculpture. The BNSF Main Line to points north and east cuts through the middle of the park. This line also hosts the passenger train services, but when I got there around 7 or 8pm the rush hour was over and it was time to run some freight trains. A Clear signal was displayed on the eastbound home signal of NORTH PORTAL interlocking and a few minutes later a mixed freight train lead by C44-9Ws #5093 and #5399 rolled by. Also, if you are interested I can un-meta that photos for you
While most of the main line through the city is in a cut or tunnel, the part near the park is actually interposed between the city and the waterfront through a series of grade crossings. You can see the enhancements on Broad St. to prevent people from going around the crossing gates. Since the freight trains can block the crossings for considerable periods as they move slowly through the downtown tunnel it is no wonder that the new Olympic Park included a pedestrian walkway over the tracks.
A few minutes later an eastbound loaded coal train roared out of the downtown area with ES44AC #5968 on point and SD70ACe #9134 following behind.
The train was destined for somewhere steep as a pair of helpers were on the back, but inexplicably facing in towards eachother. The lead unit was BN SD70MAC #9449 and the trail was BNSF SD70MAC #9894.
Stepping over to NORTH PORTAL interlocking I discovered a type of low profile GRS electric switch machine I had never encountered before...and might not again seeing as how they were about to be replaced by US&S M3's.
The next morning I had timed things a bit better and was in place for the morning rush which included an inbound Sounder train with EMD F59PHI #901 in the lead.
While one can't actually see the North Portal of the GN tunne, the South Portal is only a few hundred feet from the platforms at King Street Station and thus easy for all to see. Here is the infobox if you care and here is the portal itself, the lining having been notched for doublestack loads. Note the westbound dwarf signals for, what else, SOUTH PORTAL interlocking.
For all of you who like those Talgo trainsets here's a good illustration of why they suck. Note the space that the coaches themselves are using and then look at Amtrak cabbage F40 90253 for the space they could be using. The Cascades train was making its scheduled departure northbound.
Amtrak's King Street Station is a real gem and you can see the fencing and scaffolding in place for its ongoing restoration that will make it a great public asset.
A quick note about the King Street platform layout. Sounder commuter trains use the island platform with tracks 1 and 2 (Everett trains tend to be put on track 1 and Tacoma trains track 2), Amtrak LD and northbound/through Cascades use through track #3 and the Southbound cascades trains use the Stub tracks 4 through 6 (if track #3 is occupied). The BNSF through freight tracks are to the east of everything. The Sounder platform is own thing and Sounder passengers are segregated from the Amtrak platforms, but also the King Street Station building itself.
Here we see Bombardier Coffin Cab Car #304 on a pull in move from the yard to track two where it would turn and head south to Tacoma.
On the rear of that train was Sounder F59PHI #9 *baited breath* 11 **applause!!*. Interestingly enough you can compare the quality of my old digital camera with my friends new DSLR which was getting a trial workout before his big European trip.
The platforms at King Street were narrow so they had to install these little barriers to keep people from walking between the stairways and the platform edge.
Here we see another Everett train heading back to the yard after discharging its passengers at King street. This shot provides a good view of the yard leads and how trains get to and from the station through KING STREET interlocking.
Here we see Sounder #904 at the head of a very long train departing south out of King Street Station.
Cab Car #101 was on the rear.
KING STREET interlocking is located directly adjacent to the Seattle sports complex consisting of Qwest Field and Safeco Field for football and baseball respectably.
Here is a special treat. A short local freight move showed up pulled by BN #1520, a GP28M. The GP28M is a rebuilt EMD GP9 originally built for the Northern Pacific in the 1950's.
Pre-builds meet more rebuilds as a train containing three brand new Boeing 737NG fuselages heads south through the interlocking taking the Y/Y Approach Medium signal at KING STREET interlocking. Power for this train is provided in part by BN GP39M #2896, a rebuilt GP35 with ostensibly 2300hp.
Zoom view of the train showing all three aircraft hulls and the Diverging Approach signal at STADIUM interlocking.
Roof shot of the 50 year old #1520.
I should at this point mention that the old Union Station, used by the Union pacific and Milwaukee Road, is still standing next to King street Station. It is now the South Transit HQ and has been restored inside for events and such. The old lower level track space has been partly converted into the transit tunnel and the old platform space has been redeveloped Broad Street Station style.
After the Boeing train gets out of the way another westbound loaded coal train heads by led by BNSF ES44AC #6183.
And followed by a pair of SD70MAC's BN #9551 and #9536.
After taking the Clear signal at SOUTH PORTAL this coal train also indicates it is destined for somewhere steep by the addition of a single helper on the rear, BNSF ES44AC #5757.
Which eventually rolls past the station sign at SOUTH PORTAL interlocking.
When I mentioned that I believed that station track #2 was used for pull-in-pull-out moves only it was because the far end of it was rather rusty. BTW I should mention that when the interlocking was re-built the SafeTrain Unilens type signals were employed for all of the dwarf units, which appear to be the only type of signal in use in the terminal area. Quick bit of trivia, besides the B&O CPL, the BNSF signal aspect system is the only one that uses the same indications on both high and dwarf signals.
The passenger train yard south of the Sports Complex holds both commuter and Amtrak trainsets. At the time I took the picture a new maintenance facility was under construction and you can see how it's progressed by checking out the remarkably newer Google Earth view.
Back to King Street Station we can see the roof of #904 looking town tracks 2 and 3 towards KING ST interlocking.
I was also able to see that the Bombardier Coffin Cars come with their own emergency access cut out panel instructions. Of course since they split open on their own the whole car can be considered an emergency access panel.
Back to King Street station we find Amtrak P42DC #41 subbing for the usual Cascades branded F59 power on track #3.
Behind #41 we find Cascades Talgo trainset Mt Olympus "swoop car" #7103. This car also serves as the baggage car.
Stepping inside King Street Station all of you who have used it previously may remember a rather uninspired waiting room with a low claustrophobic drop ceiling. Well you will be happy to know that most of that horrid disfigurement is now gone and the space is well on its way to a full renovation. The old drop ceiling wire supports and square florescent lights are still in place, but work is underway to repair the damage done to the plaster decorative elements and replace the chandeliers.
The entryway rotunda has already been restored.
You can read further details on the restoration on these two posters. Click for the full size image.
Well you've made it to the end of my trip to Seattle. Next week I hit the rails as I begin my trip back to the East Coast on Amtrak Empire Builder. First up the trip over Cascade Range via the Stevens Pass.