Winter storm leaves Amtrak passengers stuck on trains for days

Published on : Friday, January 7, 2022

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 When word began to travel up the aisles that toilets on their long-stalled Amtrak train were stopped up, Malcolm Kenton and his aunt took their lone opportunity to disembark in Lynchburg, Virginia, still hundreds of miles from their homes.

They had spent more than 30 stifling hours onboard, waiting out lengthy delays caused by a winter storm that created a logjam for passenger trains headed up the East Coast that began Monday and continued into Wednesday.

Trains were stalled so long that passengers reported arguments breaking out in rail cars, parents begging for spare nappies and onboard cafes running out of food.

Amtrak delays were just one part of holiday travel upended over the past two weeks, thrown off course by a perfect storm of wintry weather, pilots and airline staff sickened by the omicron variant surge, and what travel officials say was the highest number of travellers who took to rail, roads and the skies since the start of the pandemic.

A fast-moving storm on Monday dumped between five and 10 inches of snow in the Washington region, creating a bottleneck in Virginia, snarling traffic on Interstate 95 for more than 36 hours, toppling trees onto tracks and creating the largest regional snowstorm blackout in 11 years.

Passengers such as Kenton said Amtrak was unprepared and provided them with little direction or information about the delays.

Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods said delays were caused by downed trees from winter weather.

A service alert sent out Wednesday said customers whose trips have been changed are being accommodated on other trains and change fees are being waived.

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