BNSF Reopens Hi-Line After Fatal Amtrak Wreck

The National Transportation Safety Board gave the track back to BNSF Railway late Monday afternoon. Photo Courtesy of Jessica Arp. 

BNSF Reopens Hi-Line After Fatal Amtrak Wreck

By Justin Franz 

HAVRE, Mont. — Rail service through the tiny town of Joplin, Mont., resumed shortly before 4 a.m. Tuesday, almost 60 hours after three people were killed when Amtrak’s Empire Builder derailed there, about 50 miles west of Havre. 

A BNSF Railway spokesperson tells Railfan & Railroad that the National Transportation Safety Board handed control of the tracks near Joplin back to the railroad at approximately 4 p.m. Monday afternoon and maintenance-of-way crews were able to rebuild the track there within 12 hours.

Amtrak’s westbound Empire Builder derailed at about 4 p.m. Saturday, killing three and injuring scores more. Shortly afterward, the NTSB and Federal Railroad Administration launched investigations into the derailment, the deadliest such incident in the United States since 2017. BNSF was not able to repair the track until federal investigators had concluded their on-site work. 

Amtrak service through the area has been suspended since Saturday. On Tuesday morning, Amtrak spokesperson Marc Magliari said that service would resume today and tomorrow. The westbound train departing Chicago today would travel the entire route and the eastbound train departing Seattle and Portland tomorrow would go all the way as well. 

This article was posted on: September 28, 2021