DALTON -- The blizzard that stopped traffic on much of the Panhandle last week has crews working to reopen the Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail line near Dalton.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) crews are busy removing train cars and snow from the line north of Sidney. The train is victim of the high winds and heavy snow that closed roads for several days. 

Lena Kent, General Director Public Affairs BNSF Railway, said the train was operated by two crew members. Heavy equipment was used to access the train, and move the crew to a safe location, she said.

When a train is snowbound such as the locomotive and train cars near Dalton, BNSF uses heavy equipment to dig out the train, and a rotary plow to clear the track. The company's snowplows are called "metal titans [that] can sweep through snow and ice" in the BNSF RailTalk. Dillon Baier, a Roadmaster in Engineering with 10 years of experience working with the specialized equipment, says there is an art to operating the snowplows.

The procedure for a storm like what impacted Cheyenne County and much of the Panhandle includes putting in-house heavy equipment to work and contracting equipment and personnel as needed.

The track opened December 17, although work continues on clearing the empty train cars and the snow from the tracks. Kent said a portion of the train had to be removed from the track and placed on the right-of-way, and some of the train was also taken to the train yard in Alliance.