Passengers on an Amtrak train claim they were stranded on the tracks for about 40 hours due to a winter storm.
The Crescent, an Amtrak train that left New Orleans on Sunday for New York, became stopped north of Lynchburg, Virginia, on Monday. The train returned to Lynchburg and remained there until late Tuesday, when it resumed its northern journey.
Sean Thornton of Richmond, Virginia, was a passenger on the Crescent and boarded with his daughter in Atlanta on Sunday. The Thorntons had been visiting friends in Atlanta over the holidays and expected the train to arrive around 11:30 a.m. in Charlottesville on Monday.
The problem started when the train didn’t arrive on schedule late Sunday night and arrived in Atlanta about 2 a.m., according to Thornton. Monday.
There were snags along the way, he claimed, throughout the day.
“As the train continued to stop on its tracks…we continued not to be told anything by Amtrak,” Thornton said. “We eventually stopped moving … We were in a no reception zone for cell phone service and train WiFi. As a result, nobody could communicate with loved ones or hotels during the evening.”
To make matters worse, Amtrak officials made an announcement at 5 p.m., according to Thornton. They had run out of food and also mentioned that the main cabin’s toilets were backed up.
“At some point during the evening, a very irate female staff member got on the PA system and basically yelled at everybody to stop complaining to staff and to just call Amtrak headquarters to complain instead. She indicated that the staff also had complaints and that the staff would appreciate customers telling management about their experience. It was pretty shocking,” Thornton said.
The train was gently pulled rearward behind the train station in Lynchburg, where it has been parked since around midnight, according to Thornton.
“Passengers weren’t told that they would be staying on the train for the night. We all just sort of set-up waiting to hear what they would be doing with us and fell asleep wherever we were,” Thornton said. “During the evening one of the passengers arranged for someone to bring water to the train and to pass it around. At around 10 this morning somebody went and obtained a bunch of McDonald’s and passed that around the train.”
Amtrak officials were expected to evaluate the train on Tuesday, according to Thornton. They stated that no alternate transportation was discussed at this time to get them to their destination.
“An Amtrak train which departed New Orleans on January 2 is stopped north of Lynchburg, Va., due to ongoing weather conditions. Once the tracks are clear, service will resume en route to New York. Our staff is working to make sure food and water are available for customers.”
According to the passengers, it has since arrived in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The Associated Press reports that a handful of New York-New Orleans Crescent flights have been canceled for Tuesday and later days.
Amtrak also canceled the Piedmont, which runs between Raleigh and Charlotte in North Carolina, as well as the northbound Palmetto, which goes from Savannah, Georgia, to New York, and the northbound Auto Train, which runs from Sanford, Florida, to Lorton, Virginia, on Tuesday.