Amtrak train stranded 3 days with 183 passengers aboard is moving again
Jackie Dunham, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Tuesday, February 26, 2019 1:19PM EST
Weary passengers patiently waiting three days aboard a stranded Amtrak train in snowy Oregon received welcome news on Tuesday morning that they would be moving again.
The Coast Starlight train carrying 183 people was travelling from Seattle to Los Angeles when it was struck by a falling tree falling about 72 kilometres southeast of the town of Eugene, Ore. on Sunday evening.
Travellers were kept aboard the train because the nearest town of Oakridge was without power due to a heavy snowstorm, according to Amtrak. The company said the train was the safest place to house passengers following the incident because there was electricity and enough food for everyone.
Passenger Carly Bigby told CTV News Channel that she was on her way to Klamath Falls, Ore., where she works as a teacher, when the train abruptly came to a halt.
“There was like a sudden stop,” she recalled in an interview from the train on Tuesday morning. “There was no jolt or anything, but the train stopped and they made an announcement that, because of the storms and whatnot, we had hit a tree limb.”
Union Pacific spokesman Tim McMahan told The Associated Press that crews attempting to clear the train tracks of downed trees were hampered by the fierce storm, which left approximately 30 centimetres of snow on the ground by Monday morning. He said they weren’t expected to reach the trapped train until Tuesday morning.
The plan is to move the train back to Eugene and Portland, according to McMahan.
Bigby said it’s been an anxious few days on the train with many of her fellow travellers unsure of what to expect.
“It’s been awful communication from Amtrak to us. A lot of us find information online before we even get an announcement on our train as to what’s going to happen to us,” she said. “People are kind of anxious and angry, but for the most part they’re remaining pretty civil with each other.”
Bigby said they ran out of food on Monday night so Tuesday’s announcement couldn’t have come soon enough. She also said there was a problem with the heating on the train the night before.
“Last night was freezing on the train,” she said. “I don’t know what happened with our heat, but it was really cold.”
Another passenger told the KGW television station that she was relieved the train was moving again on Tuesday.
“I'm just excited to get off of here,” Abbie Jeffrey said.
Scot Naparstek, Amtrak’s executive vice president, apologized to customers in a statement.
“We made every decision in the best interest of the safety of our customers during the unfortunate sequence of events,” he said.
Naparstek also said customers would be contacted in order to receive refunds and compensation “as appropriate.”
With files from The Associated Press