An Amtrak train stranded for 36 hours, with 183 people on board, has finally returned to Eugene, Oregon. But not without its fair share of hardship. While the train was en route to Los Angeles on Sunday, it hit a tree that had fallen onto the tracks and was rendered inoperable. Heavy snowfall covering the tracks further complicated matters, turning the ride into a 36-hour ordeal.
Tim McMahan, a spokesperson for Union Pacific Railroad, told CNN that the train ceased working in Oakridge, Oregon, “due to weather conditions and downed trees. UP crews worked overnight to clear the tracks.” Of their slow progress earlier today, passenger Emilie Wyrick told CNN, “We’ll move for a few hundred yards, then we stop. It’s going to be like this for hours.”
— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 26, 2019
During the incident, the area had been experiencing record-setting snowfall. By Tuesday morning over a foot had accumulated in Oakridge, with Eugene seeing 9.5 inches on Monday. While it might sound like giving passengers alternate transportation might have been the best option, Scot Naparstek, Amtrak Executive Vice President and COO, said it was actually safer to leave them on the train. “With local power outages and blocked roads,” he said, “it was decided the safest place for our customers was to remain on the train where we were able to provide food, heat, electricity, and toilets.” He added that customers would be given refunds and other compensation for the inconvenience.
Surprisingly, spirits aboard the train remained high. The warm, spontaneous camaraderie made the episode unexpectedly bearable for many on board. Passenger Rebekah Dodson said, “It’s just been like a giant kumbaya party. 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.” And despite the circumstances being similar to a famous Agatha Christie novel, no murder mysteries unfolded.
Despite the fun that may have been had, however, we’re sure all passengers are happy to be safely back in Eugene — even if they didn’t ultimately reach their desired destination.
H/T: Travel & Leisure