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Amtrak passengers moving again after day's delay

Hundreds stopped in their tracks after CSX freight derailment

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Passengers mill about outside an Amtrak train on which they were stuck for more than a day.

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Savannah (Georgia)
Georgia

NEW YORK (CNN) -- About 800 Amtrak passengers were stuck on three northbound trains that didn't move for about 29 hours after a freight train derailed in Georgia.

The trains began moving again Friday evening, but not before passengers said they were growing restless aboard the Silver Star, Silver Meteor and Auto Train, which run between New York City and Miami, Florida.

One of the restless riders was Nancy Johnson, who got on board one of the trains in Orlando, Florida, and was planning to take it to Washington, D.C.

She said conditions on her train grew uncomfortable as passengers waited for the train to carry them to their destinations.

"The toilets are stopped up, and people are running out of money for food," she said, explaining that many of the passengers didn't expect to be on the train for an extended period of time so they didn't bring much cash for the dining car. (Watch as passengers talk about their experiences -- 2:12)

Numerous trains came to a halt about 12:30 p.m. Thursday when a CSX freight train derailed in Savannah, Georgia, Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black said.

It took 16 hours to remove the freight train from the railroad artery, and the Amtrak trains began moving again about 5:30 p.m. Friday.

"We really regret this, but this was beyond Amtrak's ability," Black said. "This made it impossible for our trains to proceed until this morning, and even then there was a tremendous amount of freight train congestion."

Passenger Eleanor Meyer said, "We have gone from Orlando to almost Savannah standing still for 23 hours. They haven't offered us to get off and stretch our legs."

Amtrak has made arrangements for a caterer to provide complimentary boxed lunches to passengers in Florence, South Carolina, about 180 miles northeast of Savannah, Black said.

"We will do that to help alleviate the discomfort because of the terrible delays," Black said.

But it might take more than that to placate Meyer, who said she was given conflicting accounts on when the Silver Meteor would start moving again and complained that hotel accommodations were not offered.

"We are all due a big dinner," she said.

Black said passengers weren't offered hotels because CSX originally said it would have its freight train off the tracks sooner that it did.

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