Rail - Tacoma - Bypass of Point Defiance - Track and Signal Testing

Final train track testing in DuPont, JBLM, Lakewood and Tacoma  complete

Final tests of the Point Defiance Bypass railroad tracks have been completed in preparation of the new service. The tracks run from the Tacoma Dome Station, through South Tacoma, Lakewood, Joint Base Lewis-McChord and DuPont. 
While testing is done, please follow these safety tips near any train tracks:

  • Do not walk on or near the tracks
  • Do not stop your vehicle on the railroad tracks while waiting for traffic
  • Obey all signals at all times -- both pedestrians and drivers
  • Wait for crossing arms to go up and/or lights to stop flashing before entering a crossing; trains travel in both directions on the tracks
  • Remember trains will be traveling at speeds up to 79 mph (faster than the freight trains that have previously used these tracks) and may come from either direction
  • If police or flaggers are present, follow their directions
YouTube video ID

Train Safety Video

Previous Testing

Train Track and Signal Testing along Pt. Defiance Bypass mid-January through February 2017

View the poster to get more information - English (pdf 1 mb), Spanish (pdf 685 kb) or Korean (pdf 464 kb).

Two Phases of Testing

Track Stabilization
– The first phase of testing starts in mid-January to stabilize the track before moving forward with signal testing and commissioning work.
As the owner of this section of railroad, Sound Transit will run Tacoma Rail freight trains up and down the alignment at speeds up to 40 mph to ensure all new ballast and rails are stable and able to handle trains traveling at specific speeds.

Testing and Certification – The second phase of testing begins in February 2017. Amtrak trains will test the tracks and signals at speeds up to 79 mph between sunrise and sunset on weekends and during non-commuter hours on weekdays. Intersections being tested include Clover Creek Drive, North Thorne Lane, Berkeley Street, 41st Division Drive, and Barksdale Avenue (Steilacoom-DuPont Road), as well as all intersections currently on the Sounder line between the Tacoma Dome and Lakewood stations. These intersections will not be closed to traffic, but there may be delays to allow the trains to pass at varying speeds.

New Service*

*Due to the Dec. 18 derailment, the new bypass route will not be used for passenger trains for the forseeable future. Travlers in Tacoma will use the previous Amtrak station, 1001 Puyallup Ave.

There will be several months following the certification before passenger trains begin using this route on a daily basis. The Point Defiance Bypass will be in full operation starting Dec. 18, 2017* (see note above), when the new Tacoma Dome Station opens at Freighthouse Square. At that time, passenger rail service will be expanded to six round-trip Amtrak Cascades trains and one roundtrip Coast Starlight train each day. The average crossing time at intersections will be 45 seconds, with speeds up to 79 mph.

The new 2017 service will continue to stop in the existing 18 Amtrak Cascades cities :


  • Vancouver British Columbia


  • Bellingham
  • Mount Vernon
  • Stanwood
  • Everett
  • Edmonds
  • Seattle
  • Tukwila
  • Tacoma
  • Olympia/Lacey
  • Centralia
  • Kelso/Longview
  • Vancouver, WA


  • Portland
  • Oregon City
  • Salem
  • Albany
  • Eugene