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Avalanche delays Amtrak travel for several hours

By Paige Sedgewick, Reporter, psedgewick@kcfw.com
Published On: Mar 03 2014 05:28:17 PM MST
Updated On: Mar 03 2014 06:21:02 PM MST
WHITEFISH, Mont. -

Burlington Northern Santa Fe or BNSF told NBC Montana at 2:30 this afternoon that the main track or track 1 had been cleared between Whitefish and Essex. They estimated that track 2 would be cleared for travelers shortly after that.

It's been a long trip for these Amtrak passengers.

"Supposed to originally leave last night around 9 and get back into our home city which is Tri Cities, Washington about 5:30 this morning, course we're still here in Whitefish," said Curtis Bean.

That's because an avalanche blocked the tracks.

When NBC Montana showed up at the Depot in Whitefish, several people had been stuck over 20 hours. 

"One delay has gone into the next delay and gone into the next one so we're at least a day, day and a half behind in our travel," said Ronald Morris.

People headed east boarded buses to take them east, to Shelby, a little railroad town where another Amtrak is waiting.

Headed west? Then you had to wait longer.

"So far, they said we have to wait 4:30-5 now, so it's probably going to be another hour after that because they keep delaying it," said Gabi Laurenz.  

Despite the delay, one traveler told NBC Montana that he's pleased with the way Amtrak is handling the situation.

"Amtrak has been absolutely great. The gentleman that was in charge of our sleeper couldn't ask for better as far as I'm concerned and I use the trains a lot," said Morris. 

But others are finding it hard to get exact information.

"It's been kind of hectic to see what's been going on," said Bean.

The delay made some passengers miss Monday’s work, but Gabi’s not complaining about missing school. In fact, she's already looking forward to being home.

"Just relaxing, I'm probably going to take tomorrow off too, so I can just relax and watch TV all day," said Laurenz.