A stranded Amtrak train carrying nearly 200 passengers has been towed to safety after being stuck in Oakridge, Oregon, for nearly 40 hours

By Char Adams
February 28, 2019 12:05 PM
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An Amtrak train stranded in Oakridge, Oregon, was towed back to a nearby town after nearly 200 passengers were trapped on the halted vehicle for at least 36 hours, reports say.

“It feels like a nightmare, honestly, because it took forever and yet it’s already over,” passenger Finn Friedman told KOMO. “It just feels good that I’m not stuck anymore.”

The 183 passengers had been stuck on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight since Sunday evening after a tree fell onto the tracks during a winter storm, halting the train’s journey from Los Angeles to Seattle, according to the Associated Press. The passengers were kept on the train because of the town’s power outage, the AP reported.

Chris Pietsch/AP/REX/Shutterstock

On Tuesday night, a new locomotive provided by Union Pacific — which owns the tracks — pulled the Amtrak train into a station about 30 miles away in Eugene, Oregon, the New York Times reported. Crews from both Amtrak and Union Pacific worked to clear trees, snow and power lines before hauling the train.

“It’s just, like, relief. I’m just excited to get off of here,” 16-year-old Abbie Jeffrey, a passenger, told KGW.

Passengers told the AP that they all banded together during the lengthy ordeal. They helped each other contact their families, older kids entertained little ones and women formed a “mom brigade” to take care of the children.

“People were being very kind to each other, being friends,” passenger Tracy Rhodes told the AP. “It restores your faith.”

Chris Pietsch/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Photos of the rescue showed passengers smiling and placing phone calls as they were finally let off the train. Just one day earlier, spirits weren’t running so high.

“We have no idea how long we will be stuck, could be days,” one passenger,” Rebekah Dodson, told KTVI earlier this week. “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.”

None of the passengers are injured, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told CNN as he confirmed the incident earlier this week.

“Due to worsening conditions, area road closures and no viable way to safely transport passengers or crews via alternate transportation, Train 11 stopped in Oakridge, Oregon,” Magliari added. “We are actively working with Union Pacific to clear the right of way and get passengers off the train.”

Amtrak officials said in a tweet that passengers were not being charged for food or water on the train, adding that staff were doing everything in their “power to make sure [passengers] are comfortable.”

Ahead of the rescue, Dodson told CNN that the passengers were all making the best of the situation.

“It’s just been like a giant kumbaya party. Strangers are playing cards,” Dodson said. “A teenager played his ukulele to kids to get them to sleep. Ladies who have never met before were dancing in aisles.”