In the better late than never department, an Amtrak train finally chugged into St. Paul.
An eastbound Empire Builder pulled into Union Depot around 5 a.m. Thursday, about 21 hours behind schedule. The train had been stuck in a snowbank 25-feet high by 200-feet long in central North Dakota for most of Wednesday.
It took a herculean effort to free the train carrying 111 passengers after it got stuck around 7 a.m. about five miles west of Rugby, N.D.
BNSF Railway brought in snowplows, bulldozers and other equipment in an attempt to dislodge the train. BNSF also used freight trains to try to push and pull it out, but in the end it “required significant shoveling by hand” by 30 employees to clear snow from under, around and between the cars, said BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth.
The Empire Builder, which operates on tracks owned by BNSF, was headed from Seattle to Chicago with a stop in St. Paul. It was finally freed from the snow and resumed traveling to St. Paul around 7:40 p.m. Wednesday.
“We appreciate the offers of assistance from emergency responders in North Dakota, but our customers stayed aboard each train and were kept comfortable by our Amtrak staff,” said spokesman Marc Magliari.
The blocked tracks also held up a westbound train with 96 passengers for 14 hours. The train was halted west of Devils Lake and resumed rolling about 9:10 p.m. Wednesday, McBeth said.