Sound Transit CEO explains failure of light rail train after Apple Cup

Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff issued a statement about what went wrong with a Link light rail train that stopped in a tunnel after the Apple Cup.

Rogoff said a northbound train with football fans on board lost power due to a severed cable.

“This is the thick cable controlling most key functions of the train, including normal braking and propulsion systems as well as doors and lighting.”

He said that after the line broke, the brakes automatically engaged, the lights went out and only the tunnel lights lit up.

The train’s operator immediately began to troubleshoot the matter with assistance from the Link Control Center and even tried to restart the train systems several times but to no avail. The operator did not know what had happened, Rogoff said.

During that time many of the functions, including intercoms, were unavailable, according to his statement.

“We deeply regret the communications passengers received over the intercom were entirely insufficient.”

As there was no communication, passengers used the emergency mechanisms to exit the train.

He said, “Staff executed emergency protocols to stop the operations of Link trains through the area to protect passengers.”

“Sound Transit deployed a rescue train that slowly traveled through the southbound tunnel to pick up stranded passengers. Other passengers walked to the University of Washington, and possibly, the U District stations on their own.”

Once all passengers were out of the tunnel and the failed train was removed, service from UW northward was restored close to midnight.

While there still is an ongoing investigation into the issue, some initial “important lessons” have been learned, Rogoff said.

Rogoff said workers had focused too much on trying to fix the problem without informing passengers and those waiting at other stations about what was happening. He said Sound Transit will make sure that doesn’t happen again.

He also said current evacuation procedures will be evaluated.