Nearly 200 People Stranded on Amtrak Train for 36 Hours

How would you like to be riding a train that made an unexpected stop? Well, that happens once in a while. No big deal. As long as the train starts moving again soon.

But what if that stop lasts for a day and a half? And what if you can’t get off the train during those entire 36 hours?

That might be rather annoying. And frustrating. And even scary.

That’s exactly what happened recently to the 183 passengers and 12 crew members on an Amtrak Coast Starline train.

Another Train to the Rescue

The train left Seattle, Washington at 9:45 a.m. on Sunday, February 24, heading for Los Angeles.

At 6:18 p.m., the train hit a tree that had fallen across the tracks. It was unable to continue from the resulting damage.

For the next five or six hours, the crew attempted to repair the train. But they were unable to do so.

When 7 a.m. Monday rolled around, passengers were told that another train was headed their way to pull them back to Eugene, Oregon.

PR Dilemma for Amtrak

But another in a long series of winter storms that have plagued the U.S. this year struck. A foot of snow and more downed trees delayed the rescuing train.

Eventually the weather passed and the passengers and crew were rescued Monday night. But not before nearly 36 hours had elapsed. They finally arrived in Eugene on Tuesday morning.

One of the biggest complaints from passengers was the lack of communication from Amtrak during the ordeal.

Most people understand that accidents happen. And that bad weather creates delays. When those things occur, all they ask is to be kept informed about what is going on.

Crashes and derailments have been problems for Amtrak for many years. Including a derailment that got much publicity in Washington state in 2017. Now we can add a lack of communication to the list.

Passengers Just Tried to Cope

What was it like inside the train during this predicament? Parents with children had their hands full, and a number of passengers helped out by entertaining the kids.

When diapers ran out, they used washcloths held together with safety pins. When food ran out, they reverted to the minimal snacks available including potato chips and cookies.

Some people slept as much as possible, while others engaged in a variety of games. Some played the role of amateur psychologists to aid people having panic attacks.

Cellphone reception was spotty. But when folks were able to get an Internet connection, they contacted family and friends. And posted images and comments to social media.

Winter’s Fury Continues

I suppose it’s not all that surprising something like this happened. This winter has been one for the record books.

From polar vortexes to storm after storm after storm, there have been a high number of deaths, injuries and accidents.

Not to mention people being stranded in airports, in train stations, on roads and on other public transportation vehicles.

And there doesn’t seem to be any end to it. Even before one winter storm makes its way from the West Coast to the East Coast, another one comes barreling in.

Midwest Keeps Getting Hammered

Kent Flake is a commissioner of streets in St. Louis, Missouri. The 18-year city government worker told the New York Times he could not remember a St. Louis winter with more storms.

Prior to another predicted storm last weekend, the National Weather Service advised Kansas City residents to stock up on bread and milk.

Last month was the snowiest February on record in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Frigid temperatures and more snow greeted the city as March began.

In Indianapolis, Indiana, road crews have had only one weekend off since early January.

East Coast Pounded Again

Over the weekend, the East Coast got clobbered by winter storm Scott. All public schools in Boston and New York City were closed on Monday.

The New Jersey governor declared a state of emergency on Sunday. The state department of transportation sent out approximately 2,500 plows and salt spreaders to try to keep drivers safe.

In New York state, the governor deployed thousands of plows, and specialized law enforcement vehicles. And 5,000 utility workers were ready to try to restore power as outages were anticipated

Scott was responsible for 80 million people from Colorado to Maine being under winter weather alerts.

West Coast Feels It, Too

In Los Angeles, California, it was the first February on record in which the temperature never reached 70 degrees.

Snow and ice in Oregon made the governor to declare a state of emergency in 10 counties.

Across the country, potholes caused by freezing and thawing are damaging tires and wheel alignments.

Seems like just about everybody is sick of the snow and cold. But it’s further proof that we can’t control the elements. And that the only way to achieve peace of mind through it all is to be prepared for it.

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