The Associated Press ZERMATT, Switzerland (AP) — A train packed with tourists left from a snowbound resort town near Switzerland's famed Matterhorn peak Wednesday, marking the resumption of railway service that had been halted for two days because of avalanche risks and had stranded around 13,000 visitors.
The Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn train, with a capacity for 250 people, eased out of Zermatt station after teams cleared huge snowdrifts from the more than a meter of snow that blanketed the region over a one-day period, coating railways and roads.
"After being cut off for almost two days, Zermatt can now be accessed by train again," the local tourism office said. Teams were working "as a matter of urgency" to try to open roads to the bucolic Swiss Alpine town.
The move came as Switzerland’s avalanche institute, SLF, lowered the avalanche risk from the highest level, five, to four earlier Wednesday.
Local officials had initially hoped to get trains moving earlier, but the timetable was delayed after helicopter crews spotted a new snow mass left over from an avalanche days earlier.
Mayor Romy Biner-Hauser said "heavier machinery was needed ... and that’s why the operation is live only now." She said she expected roads to be passable sometime Thursday.