Amtrak train stranded more than day-and-half on snowy tracks
An Amtrak train has been stuck in wintry conditions outside Oakridge, Oregon since Sunday evening after hitting a tree that fell onto the tracks, the railroad says. It’s carrying 183 passengers. Oakridge is some 45 miles southeast of Eugene.
Amtrak said its Coast Starlight train 11 heading from Seattle to Los Angeles struck the tree at about 6:18 p.m., according to CBS Medford, Oregon affiliate KTVL-TV.
CBS Seattle affiliate KOIN-TV cites Amtrak as saying no one was hurt when the train hit the tree.
Amtrak said heavy snow and trees on the tracks were making it difficult for crews to reach the train and road closures due to the snow and downed trees were complicating matters.
But it added in a statement that Union Pacific crews were “in the process of clearing the track and are expected to reach the train by 6 a.m. Pacific Time Feb. 26. The train will then move back to Eugene and Portland. Amtrak has made the decision to keep the passengers on the train because power is out in the city. Also, with only two small hotels in town they don’t want to separate the passengers prior to having them reboard for departure.”
Passenger Rebekah Dodson told KTVL, “We’ve opened windows, we’ve gotten yelled at for opening windows. We can’t get off the train because there’s four feet of snow in every direction, there’s nowhere to go.”
She sent the station a video:
In it, a fellow passenger told Dodson he’d been on the train 32 hours. Dodson says, “We’re running low on supplies. … It is now 6 o’clock at night (on Monday). It is dark. There is more snow on the way and we are stranded for another night. … Please send help if possible. Thanks.”
Passenger Carly Bigby left from Eugene and was heading to Klamath Falls, Oregon — ordinarily just a three-hour trip.
Bigby told KOIN the snack cart was empty and people were running out of diapers for their children.
“A lot of the [older] kids have been really good but they’re having to run up and down and it’s a lot. Especially the food — it’s not really food they’re liking,” Bigby said. “Moms are doing all they can right now.”
She said Verizon is the only cell phone provider with coverage in the area, so some people haven’t been able to easily contact family members.
“If someone wants to deliver a pizza, that’d be great,” Bigby joked.
Oakridge was facing severe difficulties in its own right, as Amtrak mentioned.
CBS Roseburg, Oregon affiliate KPIC-TV reports a main highway into Oakridge is blocked and Oakridge is largely cut off from help.
The town has no power, leaving gas stations and grocery stores closed, and the local utility says electricity may not be restored for another week.
KPIC spoke with a family from the town who said neighbors were huddling together with others who had propane-fueled generators to stay warm.
But with services out, they said that won’t last long, and they were worried about what will be happen if things became desperate.