Shortly before the evening rush hour, a St. Paul light rail train derailed and workers were digging the askew choo choo out of the snow on Cedar Street.

The rail line is not yet open to passengers.

Shortly before 6 p.m., Metro Transit explain the incident as follows:

At approximately 4 p.m., wheels on the lead car of an out-of-service, three-car light-rail train came off the tracks while traveling northbound on the Green Line through the intersection of 12th and Cedar streets in St. Paul. This train had been located at the Union Depot and was returning en route to Minneapolis.

Wheels on the lead car came off the tracks because of snow that had accumulated in the rail right of way. Trains had not traveled on this section of the track since the snowstorm last week. Rail operations responded to the scene to clear the snow and put the wheels back on the tracks. Metro Transit Police and St. Paul police directed traffic through the partially-blocked intersection. Two train cars that were attached to the lead car were moved to Tenth Street Station to clear the scene. The train cars were returned and reattached to pull the train car back onto the tracks. The effort to put the train car back on the tracks continues.

When it is back on the tracks, the train car will be brought to Minneapolis for inspection. Other than the operator, no one was on the train when the wheels came off the track.

The incident came on the same day that President Obama was in town to talk about infrastructure spending. He toured the Metro Transit Light Operations Maintenance facility in St. Paul and later praised the program.

"I just had a chance to take a look at some of those spiffy new trains," Obama said in a speech at St. Paul's Union Depot. "They are nice. And they're energy efficient. They're going to be reliable. You can get from one downtown to the other in a little over 30 minutes instead of when it's snowing being in traffic for two hours."

Photo: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Jennifer Brooks, Star Tribune