Amtrak passengers free after being stuck for 14 hours - WNEM TV 5

Amtrak passengers free after being stuck for 14 hours

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

It was the light at the end of the tunnel for more than 200 Amtrak passengers early Monday, as the Silver Star from New York Penn Station arrived at Staples Mill Station - nearly 14 hours late.

A problem with one of the train's axles caused the train to come to a screeching halt Sunday afternoon, two miles north of Staples Mill.

Passengers were not allowed to leave the train cars, even as Henrico Police officers boarded and exited Amtrak Train 91 during the overnight hours.

According to Amtrak spokesperson Kimberly Woods, arranging shuttle bus transportation was too problematic, and allowing passengers to walk onto the tracks was deemed unsafe.

Amtrak personnel said a train would only be evacuated onto the tracks if a fire or other emergency put passengers' lives in danger. The train never lost power or air conditioning during the nearly 14 hour wait. Bathrooms were operational and passengers could move within the train.

The axle problem developed underneath the dining car, a section that could not be disconnected from the rest of the train. Amtrak Train 91 then moved at a pace of inches per minute, as passengers tracked the slow progress on their cell phones with GPS apps.

"I felt many bumps, them trying to move the train, every like, inch or two," said Meida Jimenez in an interview Monday. "It was horrendous. Horrendous."

The train left New York just after 11 a.m. Sunday, and was due in Richmond six hours later at 5:09 p.m.

Once passengers made it to Staples Mill Station around 6:50 a.m. Monday, many voiced frustration with a lack of updates from Amtrak on board.

"I'm trying to call [Amtrak] now, trying to get a refund," said one traveler continuing on the same train to South Carolina. "They just give us the run-around."

Amtrak replaced the dining car before the Silver Star continued its route to Miami, Fla.

"A delay of this magnitude is considered rare and we understand the passengers frustrations from last night's events," Woods said in an email Monday. "We encourage passengers to call 1-800-USA-RAIL for refund or credit information"

Amtrak is now investigating the incident.

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