Stuck in the snow: Amtrak passengers spent 37 hours stranded on the slopes


When Rebekah Dodson boarded the Starlight Amtrak Coast this weekend, she settled for what should have been a four hour trip to her home in southern Oregon.

The train, whose route mainly follows the Pacific coast, connects Seattle to Los Angeles daily and is touted as "one of the most spectacular routes of all trains".

In a short time, Dodson – who regularly passes the Coast Starlight – cruised the south with 182 other passengers, enjoying a familiar landscape.

"Usually crossing the passes is pretty easy," Dodson said later in a live video on Facebook.

Not that day. Shortly after 18:00 local time, the train struck a fallen tree that fell on the tracks after snowstorms swept through the area and stopped abruptly.

"Everyone knew that something was wrong because we stopped so fast," Dodson said. Washington Post in a telephone interview. "It was not fun at all."

The passengers had originally learned that they would be delayed "by a few hours" as the crews repaired the train, Dodson said.

However, these few hours lasted almost two days, while adverse weather conditions complicated efforts to eliminate snow tracks and obtain another engine to tow the train.

In all, the Amtrak Coast Starlight 11 train was stuck outside Oakridge, Oregon, for more than 37 hours after it was blocked.

In e-mails and a statement, Amtrak apologized for the "long delay" and defended the decision not to let passengers get off the train when it was stuck in Oakridge, a small town in the Cascade Mountains located about 65 km southeast of Eugene and 240 km south of Portland.

"With more than a foot of thick snow and many trees blocking the trail, we made every decision in the best interest of our customers' safety during the unfortunate sequence of events," he said. Scot Naparstek, chief operating officer of Amtrak.

"With local power cuts and road blockage, it was decided that the safest place for our customers was to stay on the train, which allowed us to provide food, heat electricity and toilets. "

None of the 183 passengers on board were injured in the incident, Amtrak noted.

Dodson said the repair crews had been working on the train brakes until 6 am local time, and that the passengers, literally, gradually realized that they could remain stuck in the train. train longer than expected.

"We lack supplies," said Dodson in a video recorded yesterday at NZT after the train was stuck for 24 hours. "It's dark, there's still snow on the way and we're stuck for another night … Please send help if you can."

She will tell KTVL News later that passengers were preparing washcloths to create baby diapers and women's products for exhausted women.

Another passenger, Carly Bigby, told KOIN 6 News that the snack cart was empty and the children were restless.

"A lot of [older] The kids have been really good, but they have to go up and down and that is a lot, "Bigby told the news channel. Moms are doing everything they can right now. "

Amtrak said on Twitter that passengers on board the train are not charged for food or water.

"We are doing everything in our power to make sure that they are comfortable," said the railroad.

Union Pacific Railroad said its crews were helping to clear the lane and were to reach the Amtrak stuck train at 6 am local time. Every time the train is repaired, it will return to Eugene, then north to Portland, the company added.

They reiterated Amtrak 's decision to keep the passengers on the train, noting that the accommodations in Oakridge were limited.

"With only two small hotels in town, they do not want to separate the passengers before returning them for departure," Union Pacific said.

As the passengers were spending their second night on board, Dodson said the passengers were panicking and were chasing restless kids.

"We have not moved for 30 hours in a row," wrote Dodson on Facebook. "It's hell, and it's getting worse."

Dodson seemed more optimistic later while she was talking from a place next to the bathroom, one of the few quiet places in her car. A locomotive has arrived to tow their train in the north, but it will probably take several more hours before they move, she said.

Dodson pointed out that she was one of the few people on board with the reception and that she had luckily been able to keep her phone charged because the train was running on electric power. The passengers on board spent as much time as they could.

"We play cards, we play with children, dominoes," said Dodson. "Hang out in the coffee car, stroll on the train."

Finally, the Coast Starlight was moving again. He was being towed north – which meant the passengers would return to the stations where they were originally mounted.

"We're moving at about 1 mph," Dodson said in a later phone interview.

She felt it might take days for her to return to her home in Klamath Falls, Oregon as the roads are closed and no flights are available.

Dodson said that she had only praise for the train crew, who remained "polite and professional" despite her work for nearly two consecutive days.

Amtrak, however, has never responded to her requests for updates and has not offered to compensate or accommodate the passengers, she said.

"We have not heard anything," she says.


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