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Why Sounder north line closures are becoming less frequent

All Sounder train north line services were canceled Friday after a mudslide came down across the tracks between Mukilteo and Everett. (KOMO News) 

EVERETT, Wash. --All Sounder train north line services were canceled Friday after a mudslide came down across the tracks between Mukilteo and Everett.

Friday's closure was the first of this year's rainy season. Eight Sounder trips were cancelled.

Just a few years ago however, there was a record number of 206 cancellations.

The decrease is all because of some major work that has been done along the track.

Sound Transit said more than 10,000 riders a day depend on the tracks between Everett and Seattle, but in the rainy season, it used to be far from dependable.

In 2013, extra state and federal money was added to what track owner BNSF already spends to build even more stabilization.

Gus Melonas with BNSF said some of the most effective tools are the massive concrete and steel walls.

"So when the walls catch the material that slides down, then we bring in a track crane, reach over the walls, scoop the debris away and we're back to operating trains again," Melonas said.

They've also lessened the slope of some problem areas and added electronic sensors to alert trains.

Melonas said on Friday, freight was back up and running within two hours of the slide. But with passenger cars, they need to have at least 48 hours without another slide.

"That's to protect the public. There's a big difference between a rail car of tennis shoes and a passenger car of people," Melonas said.

Washington State Department of Transportation said in total $33 million will be on landslide mitigation and while they're not even halfway through the project timeline, the railway estimates 70 percent fewer slides make it onto the tracks now than in years past.

There's no Sounder train service on the weekends, but as long as there are no more slides this weekend, service will be back to normal on Monday.

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