Flooding halts Amtrak between Spokane, St. Paul

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 1, 2011, 9:18 A.M.

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. — Amtrak officials say flooding in separate areas of northern North Dakota has forced a temporary shutdown of passenger rail service between Spokane and St. Paul, Minn.

The company said Wednesday two bridges are threatened because of rising water in the Devils Lake basin, and the rail station in Minot was closed after water flooded the basement.

Amtrak has canceled service through Thursday in North Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Minnesota, except in St. Paul. Further updates will be made available later Wednesday, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said.

“Some of this will depend on the wave action on Devils Lake,” Magliari said. “But the local flooding in Minot is an issue, even if the wind settles down on Devils Lake.”

BNSF Railway owns the tracks on which Amtrak’s Empire Builder line runs. Magliari said railway officials are inspecting the bridges and rail bed near Churchs Ferry.

About 10,000 people living near the Souris River in Minot have been ordered to evacuate, mostly as a precaution. The Souris River runs near the recently renovated Amtrak station in Minot, Magliari said.

“According to what local authorities have told us, the river will overtake the general area of the station sometime later today,” he said Wednesday.

Amtrak is refunding fares for canceled service. Tickets hold their cash value for a year, Magliari said.

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