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January 19, 2012 at 2:45 PM

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Trains running regularly — for now

From transportation reporter Mike Lindblom:

Link light-rail trains were running consistently again between Westlake Center and Sea-Tac Airport Station Airport with only minor delays early this afternoon — but authorities encourage commuters to head home before dark today.

This follows a harrowing morning, when ice delayed hundreds of rail travelers for an hour or more.

Travelers lugged their baggage across slushy International Boulevard Southearlier today in a nervous attempt to reach their flights, as icy power wires forced trainloads of light-rail users to finish their trip to the airport by bus.

"I can't believe how hard it is," said Jana McQuade, who left Poulsbo for the airport four hours earlier to take her daughter to a gymnastics meet in Las Vegas. Usually the train-flight connection is smooth, she said.

Sound Transit ran extra trains overnight to try and keep the power wires free of ice, but when a train stalled inside the Beacon Hill Tunnel, the stoppages throughout the network allowed ice to build up, said spokesman Bruce Gray.

Service stopped for nearly two hours, and at 9:15 a.m an operator told more than 100 people at Columbia City Station to hop off and find a bus downtown.

Later in the day, two empty trains ran the 16-mile route as "icebreakers" in addition to normal trains, Gray said. The icebreakers were equipped with heated pantagraphs with brass attachments that knock off the ice.

At Tukwila International Boulevard Station, some riders got off light rail and waited 25 minutes for an A Line bus to SeaTac. But there is no direct walkway or staircase from the A Line stop southbound to the station, so users were forced to navigate their way across the boulevard using stairs, an overpass and elevators.

Carey Ross said she left the Sammamish Plateau at 8 a.m. and drove to the light-rail station in SoDo. By 11 a.m., she had made it only to Tukwila, where she squeezed onto a bus to the airport, aiming for a 12:35 p.m. flight to Chicago. "Hopefully I'll get there, she said.

A North Seattle commuter's trip was even longer than most: His first bus ended up in a ditch.

In Tacoma, the downtown Tacoma Link rail-line was closed for the afternoon, because that route has no trains that can clear away ice.

Meanwhile, one Sounder commuter train was canceled and five others were delayed from Tacoma to Seattle due to icy switches Thursday morning,

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