Winter weather in Montana and mudslides in Washington have forced Amtrak to halt service on the Empire Builder for the second time this week.

Thursday's westbound Amtrak from Chicago to the West Coast was held at Union Depot in St. Paul due to a track closure at Marias Pass, Montana. That's where avalanches forced the railroad to suspend service earlier this week.

Passengers traveling to destinations between the Twin Cities and Minot were put on buses. Those heading further west were offered a return trip to Chicago and a refund, said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.

Trains on both sides of the blockage were held at stations in Montana overnight. It is hoped the snow-covered tracks can be cleared by sometime Friday.

Empire Builder trains also are not running between Portland, Ore. and Everett, Wash. through Saturday due to mudslides, Amtrak said.

Trains between Chicago and St. Paul are running as scheduled.

Passengers can check on the status of their train by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL

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