Fallen trees shut down passenger rail service between Portland and Seattle

By Eric Florip, Columbian transportation & environment reporter

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Fallen trees and debris have temporarily shut down passenger rail service between Portland and Seattle, BNSF Railway announced.

BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said officials decided to suspend Amtrak routes at 10 a.m. to protect passenger safety. But freight lines along the same corridor — and across the state — remain open, he said.

There wasn't a specific timetable set for the closure early Thursday afternoon. Melonas said crews would be clearing trees and debris and keep passenger service suspended "until conditions improve."

About 50 trees have toppled near the tracks between Vancouver and Tacoma recently, Melonas said. A blast of wintry weather blanketed much of the region with snow earlier this week, before strong winds and ice made conditions even more treacherous in the past 24 hours. Most of the fallen trees along the corridor went down north of Chehalis, Melonas said.

No major landslides have been reported near the rail lines, Melonas said.