'Empire Builder' stalled by derailment, 'Southwest Chief' gets through heavy snows

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CHICAGO – The Coast Starlight isn’t the only Amtrak train making news this week.

On Sunday afternoon, a Canadian Pacific freight train derailed east of Tomah, Wis., The eastbound Empire Builder had been running more than seven hours late, but would have passed the scene of the derailment had it been on time. Consequently, it was held another seven hours at La Crosse, Wis., until after midnight. It arrived into Chicago just after 9 a.m. Monday.

Meanwhile, Sunday’s westbound Builder was held at Wisconsin Dells, Wis., but wasn’t moved through the accident scene until early Monday morning, by then 11 hours late. It arrived at Spokane, Wash., at 11:27 a.m. Pacific Time Tuesday and was set to continue on to Seattle and Portland about 10 hours late. Amtrak cancelled Monday Empire Builders departing both the West Coast and Chicago because the westbound train due to make a same-day turn that day at Seattle and Portland, Ore., was also running 11 hours late across North Dakota and Montana. The company could have sent a trainset east from the day’s cancelled southbound Coast Starlight but did not have any standby equipment at Portland, Ore., for that section.

Heavy snow also blanketed the Southwest Chief’s BNSF Railway route beginning last Thursday, when more than three feet hit Flagstaff, Ariz., the most recorded there in a single day, according to the Arizona Sun. No trains were cancelled during the multi-day ordeal, with Chiefs suffering no more than 2.5-hour delays into their endpoint terminals; some westbounds were early or less than an hour late into Los Angeles.

However, mechanical issues delayed westbound train No. 3 set to depart Chicago on Sunday at 2:50 p.m. until 8:23 p.m. Monday’s westbound Chief departed more than an hour and a half late, facilitating a connection with inbound Capitol Limited travelers who arrived more than six hours late into the Windy City after their train suffered three hour delays each on CSX Transportation out of Washington, D.C., and on Norfolk Southern in Indiana.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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