Winter Storm Disrupts Empire Builder in Montana

Severe winter weather in Montana has caused service disruptions for Amtrak’s Empire Builder.

On Monday, Amtrak suspended Nos. 7 and 8 west of St. Paul, Minnesota, after heavy snow and avalanches blocked the tracks in the mountains.

Amtrak Empire BuilderOn Sunday, winter storm Maya was dumping snow at the rate of 1 to 2 inches per hour. Blizzard warnings were posted in Glacier National Park and the BNSF route used by Amtrak was blocked at Marias Pass.

BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth said it was not known when rail service would resume.

“BNSF crews were prepared for and are actively working to mitigate avalanche debris and blowing snow that has reached the rail grade,” she said. “We will resume operations through the corridor when conditions allow for the safe movement of trains.”

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said it may be days before the Empire Builder can operate west of St. Paul.

He said the passenger carrier is offering refunds to passengers who trips have disrupted or offering to book them on another date. The Empire Builder will continue to operate between Chicago and St. Paul.

Magliari said trains were being sent back to stations in Shelby and Whitefish, Montana, and no trains are departing from Seattle or Portland for Chicago.

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