UPDATE: BNSF officials said just before noon Saturday that the passenger-train suspension has been extended until at least Monday morning, due to additional incidents triggered by the storm. Freight trains may be back on track later today, but no firm decision on that has been determined.
(Original story below)
Mudslides along the Crescent Beach bluff have prompted rail officials to halt freight and passenger-train service between Vancouver and Bellingham until further notice.
BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas confirmed this afternoon (Friday, Jan. 31) that a “significant” slide near the 24 Avenue curve triggered detection alarms at 12:40 p.m.
Debris slid from a 150-foot slope, covering a stretch 30 feet long and five feet deep, Melonas said just before 3:30 p.m.
“This was a significant slide that actually came over the tracks,” he said.
A rail crane was brought in to remove debris, and “all traffic” along the line was suspended, he added.
While initially, freight-train movement was anticipated to resume early this evening, within minutes of speaking to Peace Arch News about the first slide, Melonas called back to report that another incident had occurred “within the hour,” and that he could no longer predict when train travel would resume.
“As we speak, they’re removing the debris,” Melonas said.
The second slide occurred approximately .5 km south of the first. It was also about 30 feet long and four feet deep.
Other “slippages” within the area continue, and monitoring will be maintained 24/7, he said.
Passenger-train service is on a 48-hour hold, with the “ticker” starting at the most recent slide. As long as no further slides occur, it’s anticipated Amtrak will be able to resume service late Sunday afternoon.
“But it depends on conditions,” Melonas said. “If there’s more slides… it’s 48 hours from the last slide.”
Freight-train operation is typically back on track quicker, he said.