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Amtrak passengers stranded for 13 hours

By Katia Hetter, CNN
updated 6:58 AM EDT, Tue July 9, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Amtrak's Silver Star train was disabled just 2 miles from a train station
  • A problem with the axle on a dining car caused a 13-hour delay
  • Passengers had access to food and water but were not allowed to leave the train

(CNN) -- Amtrak Train 91 was way behind schedule. More than 13 hours behind schedule, thanks to a nearly half-day stranding just 2 miles from a train station.

The Miami-bound Silver Star train had departed New York City on Sunday at 11:02 a.m. with 261 passengers aboard, and it was supposed to arrive just after 5 p.m. in the Richmond, Virginia, area. Instead it arrived there on Monday around 6:45 a.m., according to Amtrak's website.

"The dining car developed axle problems that disabled the train 2 miles north of the Staples Mill Road Station in Richmond around 5:30 p.m. Sunday," said Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods, via e-mail. "The dining car couldn't be moved or cut out at the scene, because of the axle problems."

"The train was between stops so safely removing the passengers or arranging alternate transportation was too problematic," Woods said.

"The train began a very slow move (at 3:45 a.m.) to a siding in Richmond and arrived to the station just after 6:30 a.m. and a replacement car was added," she said. "The train resumed its trip around 7:12 a.m." (A siding is a section of track off the main line.)

During the delay, passengers were free to move around inside the train, and they had access to food and water, bathrooms, and heating and air conditioning, she said.

Passenger Kevin Smith was frustrated at how long it took Amtrak to solve the problem.

"If you are a corporation that alienates its customer base, you ain't going to have customers," Smith told CNN affiliate WTVR. "I think Amtrak could have solved this a lot sooner."

Smith didn't fault the Amtrak employees on board, calling them fellow victims of the delay. "The employees can't be faulted here. It's obvious there's an equipment problem."

Woods encouraged passengers to call 1-800-USA-RAIL for information about refunds and credits.

"A delay of this magnitude is considered rare and we understand the passengers' frustrations from last night's events," she said.

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