'This is hell': USA train passengers stranded for 36 hours

Saul Bowman
February 27, 2019

An Amtrak train that was stranded in a remote and snowed-in part of OR for more than a day after hitting a fallen tree pulled into Eugene shortly before noon Tuesday, to passengers' great relief.

The Coast Starlight train carrying 183 people was travelling from Seattle to Los Angeles when it was struck by a falling tree falling about 72 kilometres southeast of the town of Eugene, Ore. on Sunday evening.

None of the 183 passengers and crew members aboard were injured, according to Amtrak.

Oakridge is about 45 miles (72km) south-east of Eugene. Heavy snow and other fallen trees made the train temporarily unreachable.

With the help of heat, power and food, a passenger said the mood on board had remained surprisingly upbeat.

The train, originally en-route to Los Angeles, will return to Seattle after receiving maintenance in Eugene, Amtrak spokesperson Olivia Irvin said.

"Due to worsening conditions, area road closures and no viable way to safely transport passengers or crews via alternate transportation, Train 11 stopped in Oakridge, Oregon", he said. "They have to manually switch every signal we come across to ensure the train and any cars that may be crossing are all safe".

Amtrak's website was unable to provide a status update on the train.

After the train began moving again Tuesday, Dodson posted a video on Facebook admiring the view.

Crews working to clear the track were expected to reach Train 11 by 6 a.m. local time Tuesday, a spokesman for Union Pacific railroad company told The Associated Press. "A lot of us find information online before we even get an announcement on our train as to what's going to happen to us", she said. And now, more than 30 hours in, the train still hasn't moved an inch. The stranded train was surrounded by feet of snow.

"With only two small hotels in town they don't want to separate the passengers prior to having them reboard for departure", Union Pacific stated. "They don't have those supplies on the train", a passenger named Carly Bigby told ABC News. An engine had arrived to tow their train back north, but it would likely be several more hours before they would be moving, she said. "Strangers are playing cards", Dodson said.

"It's just been like a giant kumbaya party", passenger Rebekah Dodson told CNN.

Naparstek also said customers would be contacted in order to receive refunds and compensation "as appropriate".

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