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Amtrak cancels some trains to get 'Empire Builder' back on schedule

  |   Dec. 12, 2013 at 11:42 PM
CHICAGO, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Amtrak canceled several trains between St. Paul, Minn., and Spokane, Wash., this week to get Empire Builder service back on schedule, a spokesman says.

Marc Magliari, a spokesman for the national passenger rail corporation in Chicago, told the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune frigid temperatures and heavy freight traffic have delayed many trains, throwing the schedule into disarray. Magliari said Amtrak hopes the schedule will be "back in cycle" before the busy Christmas season.

The Empire Builder normally runs daily, connecting Chicago to Seattle and Portland, Ore. Service east of St. Paul and west of Spokane has not been affected, Magliari said.

The cancellations began Wednesday with the westbound train being dropped. Magliari said no westbound train will run Friday and Sunday, while the eastbound train was canceled Thursday and Saturday.

While low winter temperatures are expected in the northern tier, Magliari said they are coming unusually early this year, causing operating problems.

Amy McBeth, a spokeswoman for BNSF, which owns the track, said the improving economy means freight traffic on the line is at its highest point since 2006.

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