- Passengers on an Amtrak train were stranded in South Carolina after their train took a detour due to another train derailing.
- Some passengers fresh out of patience appeared to have started calling the police, per ABC News.
- A train conductor was heard telling passengers they weren’t being held hostage, per videos seen by ABC News.
An Amtrak trip from Virginia to Orlando turned into a nightmare this week after passengers were kept on board the train for more than 29 hours.
ABC News reported that the Auto Train in question left Virginia at 5 p.m. on Monday, and was meant to reach Florida by 10 a.m. on Tuesday. However, the Amtrak train was taken off its normal route after a CSX freight train collided with a vehicle on the tracks during the South Carolina leg of the journey — resulting in the Amtrak Auto Train needing to be diverted off-course, reported ABC News.
This was just the beginning of the mess: the Amtrak passenger train’s journey was then halted in South Carolina. Passengers had to wait for a certified backup crew to arrive because there are specific crews who can operate Auto Trains, per ABC News. Additionally, safety laws control how many hours train employees are allowed to work.
Late on Tuesday, ABC News journalist Sam Sweeney tweeted that passengers had been “stuck on board for 29+ hours.” Local ABC affiliate WPDE reported that the train started moving again just before 10 p.m. on Tuesday night.
Some passengers who were out of patience with Amtrak after being delayed for hours also appeared to have started calling the police, ABC News reported.
Sweeney posted a video on Twitter where a train conductor can be heard saying over the loudspeaker: “For those of you that are calling the police, we are not holding you hostage. We are giving you all the information which we have. We are sorry about the inconvenience. As soon as more information is available, we will let you know shortly.”
—Sam Sweeney (@SweeneyABC) January 11, 2023
It is unclear how many passengers are on board the train. Representatives for Amtrak did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
In a statement made earlier in the evening to local news outlet WIS-TV Amtrak said:
“Tuesday’s southbound Amtrak Auto Train has been impacted by significant delays due to a CSX freight derailment in South Carolina. The train was detoured off its normal route in order to continue operating south and is currently stopped in Denmark, S.C., while it waits for a new crew to arrive. Customers have been provided meals, snack packs, and beverages.
“A new crew is traveling to Denmark to board the train and work onboard when service resumes. A new crew is necessary because the hours of service for previous crew expired.”
Some Twitter users also tweeted angry messages at Amtrak, telling the company to solve the problem and get the train on the road.
“Hey @Amtrak my parents have been stuck on the auto train that left Lorton yesterday around 5pm. Need some answers – food is limited, bathroom facilities are gross, and children/elderly are aboard. They were supposed to arrive almost 12 hours ago,” wrote a Twitter user named Caitlyn Crowley on Tuesday night.
“Any help heading towards the fully booked Amtrak auto train full of elderly passengers that is now almost 10 hours past arrival time? No food, no access to medical care, crew has disembarked, no replacement. Stuck in SC,” a Twitter user with the ID SoBeana wrote on Tuesday night as well.
Other Twitter users appealed to Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg for help, while others pointed out the “deplorable” conditions on the train.
Amtrak told ABC News late on Tuesday that the train’s staff were “working with pet owners to provide bathroom breaks.”
“We have been providing regular updates to customers, along with meals, snack packs, and beverages,” the company told ABC News.