Update: National rail strike averted, Sounder to operate on normal schedule

Commuter line includes stops in Kent, Auburn

With a national rail strike averted, Sounder commuter rail service will operate Friday, Sept. 16 on a regular schedule between Everett and Lakewood.

The N Line (Everett – Seattle) and S Line (Lakewood – Seattle) service will operate as normal. The S Line includes stops in Kent and Auburn.

On Monday, Sept. 19, two additional S Line trips will be restored. The restored trips are the 7:55 a.m. southbound departure from Seattle and the 10:06 a.m. northbound departure from Lakewood. This brings the total daily round trips to 13.

Sounder trains are operated and dispatched by BNSF Railway employees under contract on tracks owned by BNSF, according to Sound Transit.

According to cnn.com, unions representing the engineers and conductors, who make up the two-person crews on each train, were at loggerheads in negotiations. If they difn’t resolve their differences, the first national rail strike in 30 years would have started on Friday.

Those engineers and conductors unions represent roughly half of the more than 100,000 unionized workers at the nation’s major freight railroads, according to cnn.com. Without them on the job those trains will not run, nor will many commuter and Amtrak trains that run over freight rail lines. Indeed, Amtrak already suspended some of its routes.

According to cnn.com, the engineers and the conductors say the strike is not over pay; but that the work conditions and scheduling are driving their members to quit jobs, leaving the railroads with a staffing shortage that makes conditions for the remaining workers intolerable.

The railroads say that average compensation for their employees comes to $122,000 per year, including both pay and benefits, according to cnn.com.