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Icy weather blamed for rail delays, closings

SEATTLE – A Burlington Northern Santa Fe spokesman said icy weather backed up trains on New Year’s Day and forced it to halt Amtrak service on its tracks across Montana and North Dakota.

BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said traffic was slowed by snow, freezing temperatures and winds that pushed wind chills into the minus-20s and lower.

He said freight trains were still running but at slower speeds. Crews also had to remove snow from tracks and work on switches to keep them from freezing up.

Amtrak spokeswoman Christina Leeds said passenger trains will run between Seattle and Whitefish, Mont., and Chicago and St. Paul, Minn., but not at points in between. She said passengers who had hoped to ride the full route will have the option to return to their point of origin.

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