Train derailment impacts Amtrak passengers’ trip

Despite the 15 degree temperature and blowing wind, Dustin Willms, of Kansasville, Wis., and Connor Stinson, of Grand Forks, passengers on the Amtrak train, stood beside the Minot Amtrak Depot Thursday afternoon waiting for other transportation to take them to their destinations west of here.

Willms and Stinson had been on the westbound Amtrak train but only got as far as Minot, where the train stopped late Thursday morning. It would remain there for a time because of a derailment Thursday at 6:30 a.m. on the tracks east of Williston.

Steve Forsberg, a BNSF spokesman, said the derailment involved 13 cars on an eastbound intermodal train about 35 miles east of Williston. He said there were no injuries.

“All but one of the cars were carrying empty intermodal containers and trailers. One was carrying several containers of refrigerated fruits and vegetables,” Forsberg said.

Williams County Emergency Services told a North Dakota radio station that it was possible the 60 mph winds from a powerful winter storm might have caused the derailment, The Associated Press reported.

Forsberg said the cause of the derailment is not known at this time.

Willms, who is a carpenter, said he was on his way to Williston to work in

construction. He said the train got into Minot around 10:30 or 11 a.m. Thursday, arriving late. He was supposed to be getting off in Williston about that time instead of in Minot. At mid-afternoon Thursday, he was waiting for his dad, Jim Willms, who was driving from Williston to pick him up at the depot. He said his dad already was in Minot and should be at the depot shortly.

Stinson said he was on his way to Whitefish, Mont., to ski. He was waiting for a bus that would take him to Havre, Mont., about 300 miles west of Williston, and then he would go on the train the rest of the way to Whitefish.

Most of the other passengers were on the train by the Minot depot where they waited for the motor coaches coming from Bismarck to take them to Havre.

Marc Magliari, communications director for Amtrak in Chicago, said Thursday afternoon there would be four bus loads of passengers about 150 people who would be going from Minot to Havre since the track was temporarily closed. He said eastbound passengers also would be taken from Havre to Minot

Stinson said when they were on the train, passengers first were told there was an engine malfunction and then it was announced there was a derailment ahead.

The AP reported the derailment had blocked the main BNSF line, and customers were told to expect delays of 36 hours to 48 hours. BNSF shares its tracks with the Amtrak passenger train.

BNSF officials released information Thursday evening that the estimated time of opening the tracks is today at 1 p.m. “Customers may experience delays of 24 to 48 hours on shipments moving through the corridor,” the information said.