- An Amtrak train in Oregon finally started moving again after being stranded for 36 hours in Oregon.
- One of the train’s 183 passengers told INSIDER that Amtrak gave them little communication about their situation, and that food was scarce.
- Some people made it work, and even formed a makeshift kids’ group.
After being stranded for 36 hours, an Amtrak train in Oregon finally finally started moving again on Tuesday morning.
It marks the end of an ordeal where snowy weather and fallen trees forced 183 passengers to be stuck since Sunday. They had little food, and Amtrak gave them almost no information about what would happen to them, one passenger, Carly Bigby, told INSIDER.
On social media and with interviews, Bigby and other passengers shared details of their ordeals throughout the trip.
Passengers didn’t get much information about what was going on
According to Bigby, 23, Amtrak employees didn’t make it clear that they would be stuck for so long.
Employees, she said, just used the loudspeaker every few hours to tell them they didn’t have any updates.
“The communication was so poor, we were just kind of left in the dark about everything,” Bigby told INSIDER. “It was basically that we were going to be a while, that we were just waiting on mother nature, that there were some trees, and we would have to wait or whatnot.”
Instead, Bigsby said, she relied on The Oregonian for updates about her train. She read there Sunday night that Amtrak would send a relief car the next morning to the train, but didn’t hear anything about it from Amtrak employees.
An Amtrak representative told INSIDER the company didn’t charge passengers for food and drinks while they were on the train. The representative also said Amtrak will “provide refunds and other compensation as appropriate.”
“I can’t speak to this specific experience, but want to note that our crews worked continuously to provide available updates, answer questions and assist the customers on the train,” the spokesperson said.
There was some camaraderie: Parents made a makeshift daycare in the food car
The train initially left Seattle Sunday morning at 9:45 a.m. local time. It gound to a halt near Oakridge, Oregon, at around 7 p.m. that same day.
By Monday morning, passengers realised they didn’t know how long it would be until they could leave. Some of them with children put together a kids’ group in the snack car, Bigsby said in an Instagram story video.
“I heard that they held a kids’ group today, where kids were able to go down and colour,” she said Monday. “And there was somebody live who was playing like a guitar for kids who are on board.”
Rebekah Dodson, another passenger, said people on the train were getting along.
“It’s just been like a giant kumbaya party,” Dodson told CNN. “Strangers are playing cards. A teenager played his ukulele to kids to get them to sleep. Ladies who have never met before were dancing in aisles.”
For Bigsby, it was supposed to be a short trip
Bigsby was just supposed to be on the train for a three-hour trip. She was returning home to Klamath Falls from her fiancé’s parents’ house in Eugene, Oregon, where she was celebrating his birthday.
She boarded the train at 5:10 p.m. on Sunday. An hour and a half after that, it stopped, leaving her on the train for around 38 hours before it moved again.
And Bigsby didn’t even have the worst of it. Some passengers were on the train since it first left Seattle that morning, meaning they ended up on it for around 45 hours.
In a statement to INSIDER, Amtrak executive vice president Scot Naparstek said it decided to keep the train at a standstill for 36 hours out of concern for its passengers’ safety.
The trip caused problems for people at home
Being stuck on the train also meant complications off-track. A large number of the people on the train were students, Dodson told CNN. Some of them had trouble getting excused for class, since they couldn’t convince their professors they were really stuck on a train, she said.
“We have some younger college students that are missing college classes, and their professors, especially at UCLA and UC Sacramento, are unwilling to work with their students,” she said. “They’re saying they’re lying about being stuck on a train. So we’ve had some meltdowns, some panic attacks, some anxiety.”
After Dodson posted on social media about being stranded, she said, neighbours helped bring food to her husband, a disabled veteran, and two children.
“I was only supposed to be gone for three days. Now it’s five days,” she said. “It’s caused a hardship on everybody on this train.”
- Read more:
- An Amtrak train with 183 passengers on board was stuck for more than 36 hours after hitting a tree in Oregon
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal is right about transforming transportation – but we don’t have to wait for its more ambitious goals
- Amtrak points out one big strength trains have as the government shutdown wreaks havoc on airports
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