Flooding on the Big Muddy continues to be a major problem for everyone, including Amtrak and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF.) The Empire Builder service, severely disrupted since mid June, has finally resumed.
June ridership on the Empire Builder was down to 23,721 passengers, a 53 percent drop compared to ridership in June 2010. California Zephyr ridership from Chicago to San Francisco fell more than 19 percent last month, to 30,450.
Amtrak announced it is restoring daily Empire Builder service for the full route between Chicago and Seattle/Portland following flood damage repairs made by the BNSF in North Dakota:
Starting with the eastbound departures of Train 8 from Seattle and Train 28 from Portland, Oregon on Sunday, July 17, the Amtrak Empire Builder will return service to missed stops in eastern Montana, North Dakota and western Minnesota.
The westbound Amtrak Empire Builder Trains 7/27 will resume service to the full route effective with the departure from Chicago on Monday, July 18, 2011.
However, the station and the boarding platform at Minot, North Dakota were damaged by flooding and remain closed. Amtrak service at Minot cannot resume until repairs are made by Burlington Northern Santa Fe sometime next month.
"We appreciate the patience of our customers and the work being done by Amtrak and BNSF employees to restore service," said Daryl Pesce, the Chicago-based Amtrak General Superintendent. "Amtrak and the predecessors of BNSF have together operated the Empire Builder since 1929 and no one can recall as much flooding and disruption on the route in these 82 years."
And now flood victims are suffering a double whammy with the heat wave covering the mid-west.
The National Weather Service office in Springfield Missouri just issued this ominous warning:
THE COMBINATION OF PROLONGED HIGH LEVELS OF TEMPERATURE AND HUMIDITY WILL CAUSE A POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS PUBLIC HEALTH SITUATION OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS.
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