Amtrak in North Dakota disrupted due to oil, freight shipments; detours to last through Feb.

  • Article by: JAMES MacPHERSON , Associated Press
  • Updated: February 9, 2014 - 11:45 AM

BISMARCK, N.D. — The ice fishing in northeast North Dakota is the best it's been in two decades, but some anglers can't make it because trains handling freight and crude from the state's oil patch are displacing Amtrak passenger service.

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texas_technomanFeb. 9, 14 7:17 AM

"Record amounts" is $5b in capital for 2014. That's almost double what they invested prior to the Berkshire acquisition. And the impact to Amtrak is less to do with oil shipments and more to do with the severe cold, which impacts train air brake systems, which result in shorter trains, which means more trains, which translates into congestion.

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sfod93Feb. 9, 14 8:23 AM

I've heard there is a highway that goes through Devils Lake that cars and trucks can travel on.

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obamafone4meFeb. 9, 14 9:08 AM

If Warren Buffet didn't buy obama off we would have a pipeline carrying oil instead of Buffet's trains.

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doengesFeb. 9, 14 9:09 AM

Cold could be a factor but it certainly is not the biggest factor. How do you explain the horrible on-time performance in June, July, and August? You almost have to plan on spending the night in Chicago if you have a late afternoon or evening connection at Union Station. Our train in September (no winter issues then) left Seattle 6 hours late because the west bound train was so late getting in that they could not service/prep the train for the return trip in time for the scheduled departure. At this time 2/9/14 @ 9:09 am), the EB train is 5 hours 9 mins late into MSP. The WB train was 11 hrs and 1 minutes getting into Whitefish MT this morning.

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okaybruceerFeb. 9, 14 9:16 AM

I rode the Empire Builder from the west coast to Minnesota. It was dreadfully-slow, had backed-up toilet facilities that made our car smell like feces, hopelessly behind schedule, and full of unsavory characters and drug addicts (as evidenced by DEA dogs finding drugs aboard). A better use of rails is for freight to get all of the semis off the highways. We need to get rid of the ultimate government boondoggle, Amtrack.

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lowinfovoterFeb. 9, 14 9:29 AM

My mother brings Amtrak in from the west several times a year. Freight always has the priority on the tracks. She has been delayed many times due to freight trains. Nothing new here, just another attempt to demonize the oil boom in ND.

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RossbergFeb. 9, 14 9:43 AM

Since this is likely to be a continuing problem why don't they consider changing the route and run Amtrak trains through South Dakota? I don't know the condition of the rails but they appear to traverse the state and hit all the major cities. You would likely get far more tourists in the summer and could still continue on to the west coast. The current westbound train, if it is on schedule, goes through Glacier Park at night so there's little to see along the No. Dakota route anyway and it's doubtful that losing Fargo as a stop would impact Amtrak's business worse than having a schedule that's continually disrupted.

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jbpaperFeb. 9, 1410:07 AM

If the clueless anti truck crowd, who want everything shipped via rail, gets their way, this is only going to get worse.

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JMJohnnyFeb. 9, 1410:26 AM

Yet another reason for buses to replace Amtrak all along the Highway 2 corridor between Grand Forks and Spokane. Better, at the volumes cited - 15 boarders per train per ND stop at one train per day per stop in each direction - there would be more frequent bus service to accommodate the volume and hence more convenience for riders. Better still, scarce rail capacity is set aside for critical freight, including ND oil trains, which can get supplies anywhere in the US much faster than pipelines - something that should not be discounted during winters like this one, replete with spot shortages of fuel and heating oil.

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honeybooFeb. 9, 1412:28 PM

This story's premise is sad. What percentage of ice fishermen take a train anywhere? Get with the program.

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