An Amtrak train traveling from Seattle to Los Angeles made an unexpected stop in a small town in Oregon…for 37 hours.
Amtrak’s Coast Starlight service runs daily between Los Angeles and Seattle. The 36-hour journey mostly follows the Pacific coast, making several stops along the way in towns both large and small. You can read my own review of Amtrak’s Coast Starlight in a Superliner Bedroom here.
> Read More: Amtrak Coast Starlight Review
But 183 passengers onboard encountered an unexpected stop in a small town called Oakridge, about 150 miles south of Portland, on Sunday night. Just after 6:00PM, the train struck a tree that had fallen across the tracks. The train screeched to a halt and engineers surveyed the damage. Passengers were told to expect a “two hour” delay. But that delay eventually turned into a 37-hour delay. During that time, for safety reasons, passengers were not allowed off the train.
One passenger provided live updates on Twitter:
— Lincoln Graves (@LincolnGraves) February 26, 2019
Amtrak’s Chief Operating Officer Scott Naparstek defended the decision to prohibit passengers from disembarking the train:
With more than a foot of heavy snow and numerous trees blocking the track, we made every decision in the best interest of the safety of our customers during the unfortunate sequence of events. With local power outages and blocked roads, 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.
And in a litigious world, that logic makes sense doesn’t it? I do not blame Amtrak for keeping passengers onboard.
Yesterday morning at about 5:30A.M. a back-up engine arrived and the train started moving back…right back to Seattle where it had started. Passengers have not been offered compensation yet, but that is likely coming. Many passengers have been interviewed and all have heaped praises on the Amtrak staff who worked two days straight to keep passengers warm and fed. While I would not have wanted to been one of the 183 passengers onboard, it represents an unforgettable memory. And it certainly could have turned out worse…
How would you have handled a 37-hour Amtrak delay?