Hundreds of Amtrak ticket holders are seeing their travel plans disrupted due to complications of wintry weather and a traffic jam on the rail system.
The Star Tribune reports that five runs of the Empire Builder between St. Paul and Spokane, Wash., have been canceled. The cancellations include three runs heading east and two traveling west between Wednesday and Sunday.
The snag continues at stops in between the two cities. Forum Communications reports that travelers scheduled to leave Fargo on Friday or Saturday have had their trips canceled regardless of whether they are going east or west. Service west of Spokane and between St. Paul and Chicago is not affected.
Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said ticket holders were being notified and assisted in making new arrangements. He said the cancellations represent an effort to the schedule “back in cycle.” Amtrak expects to have a resumption of its normal schedule by Christmas week.
Magliari said the buildup of ice and snow on the tracks’ switching mechanisms has created problems. Hoses and electrical connections on the trains have also broken down under the wintry conditions, he added.
A surge in freight trains hauling North Dakota crude and agricultural products along the northern corridor has also slowed traffic. The tracks are owned the BNSF freight carrier; a spokeswoman said current train traffic is the busiest since 2006.