Winter snowstorm strands passengers on Amtrak train for 40 hours

Travel chaos caused by Monday’s snowstorm is not limited to the traffic standstill on Interstate 95, with passengers on an Amtrak train having been stuck aboard for 40 hours.

The Crescent Line, which runs from New Orleans to New York via Atlanta and Washington, DC got stuck north of Lynchburg, Virginia on Monday.

Amtrak officials say that fallen trees have blocked the tracks.

The train initially came to a halt on Monday morning in an area with no cellphone service nor Wi-Fi signal.

Eventually, around midnight, the train was reversed into the station at Lynchburg, but no announcement was made about what was to happen next.

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Prior to that, passengers were informed at approximately 5pm that the train had run out of food, and there were reports of backed-up toilets.

Passenger Sean Thornton told WSB TV: “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.”

He added: “She indicated that the staff also had complaints and that the staff would appreciate customers telling management about their experience. It was pretty shocking.”

When the train returned to Lynchburg, Mr Thornton described what happened next: “Passengers weren’t told that they would be staying in the train for the night. We all just sort of sat up waiting to hear what they would be doing with us and fell asleep wherever we were.”

In the morning they had still not heard anything.

He added: “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.”

Malcolm Kenton, a passenger from Washington, DC, told The Virginian Pilot that he and his aunt left the train when it returned to Lynchburg and went to a hotel.

“We’ve pretty much given up on getting back on the same train,” Mr Kenton, a longtime Amtrak passenger who prefers the train to flying or driving, said on Tuesday.

He added that the current delay is “among the worst” he’s ever encountered, noting that he thought downed trees could have been cleared more quickly.

“Amtrak does not seem to do well in handling these situations when they arise,” Mr Kenton said.

An Amtrak statement regarding the delay reads: “An Amtrak train which departed New Orleans on January 2 is stopped north of Lynchburg, Virginia, 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 is available for customers.”

Since then, an Amtrak spokesperson has confirmed that the train resumed service just before 4.30pm on Tuesday and was heading north to New York.

Earlier on Twitter, Amtrak announced that the Crescent service scheduled to return from New York on Tuesday is now cancelled, and the train scheduled to depart New Orleans is as well.

Amtrak Train 90 from Savannah, Georgia was also stuck at Richmond’s Staples Mill station where it came to a halt at 5pm on Monday.

The snowstorm and a freight train derailment near Baltimore have caused a huge upset across the Amtrak schedule in the northeast corridor.


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