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Amtrak service resumes after extreme cold

MINOT, N.D. — The extreme cold this week presented challenges for railroads serving the area.

Amtrak passenger service canceled all of its train originations to and from Chicago on Wednesday, Jan. 30. The company started restoring service with some trains on Thursday, Jan. 31, and was scheduled to restore service with nearly all others on Friday, Feb. 1. Amtrak typically operates 55 trains daily to and from the Chicago hub.

People can visit Amtrak.com for refund and service information.

Amy McBeth, Minneapolis, BNSF public relations director for this region, said BNSF is operating trains even in the extreme cold.

"We make some modifications, such as shorter train lengths because extreme cold causes challenges for trains' braking systems because of reduced air flow," McBeth said.

National news reported in Chicago this week that train tracks for the Chicago Metra commuter trains were set on fire to heat them to prevent freezing. The flames were from gas-fed heaters alongside the tracks.

"In contrast to what you see in Chicago, we have switch heaters placed strategically on our tracks across the region to prevent ice buildup so tracks can be switched. They're run on propane with the flame inside the heater similar to how your home furnace operates," McBeth said.