Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Oct. 21, 2020

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Landslide disrupts Amtrak traffic in Vancouver

By , Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter
Published:

A landslide in Vancouver will halt passenger train service through Clark County until 6:50 a.m. Monday.

The slide at 6:50 a.m. Saturday covered a section of the BNFS track between Vancouver’s rail junction and Felida.

BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said the slide happened when a shelf atop a 100-foot-high cliff adjacent to the tracks peeled off.

The slide covered a 20-foot section of the double main rail line with mud, rocks, trees and other debris to a depth of 3 feet. The first rail line was cleared at about 9 a.m.; the second was cleared at about 2:30 p.m.

“A geo-tech team is there now, assessing slope stability,” Melonas said.

After five freight trains were delayed because of the cleanup, BNFS resumed freight traffic along the line, Melonas said. However, passenger trains call for a much higher level of precaution. So, the railroad called a 48-hour moratorium on Amtrak passenger traffic.

An Amtrak spokesman said passengers will be offered charter bus service to their destinations during the rail moratorium.

“They can load at the same place, just a different vehicle,” said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said.

Buses usually don’t travel fast enough to meet rail timetables, however, so passengers should call 1-800-USA-RAIL to discuss their options — including changing travel plans, he said.

A slide-detector fence alerted the local BNSF control center that there was a problem with the rail line through Vancouver, Melonas said.

This marks at least the 10th service interruption between Vancouver and British Columbia so far this year, Melonas said — most of them north of Seattle. He attributed it to three weeks of heavy rain in January.

About 50 trains typically use the BNSF line each day between Vancouver and Seattle, Melonas said.

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Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter
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