Snow Traps 500 Amtrak Passengers On Trains Overnight — So How Were The Toilets?

As you’re snuggled up to your cubicle space heater and dreading that icy walk home, sure, you’re allowed to feel the cold and be grumpy about it. But imagine being stuck on an Amtrak train for hours, overnight, huddled in your coat and hungry, with flooded bathrooms and nonworking toilets. Those are some of the conditions passengers stranded on three trains in Illinois said they faced before their rescue this morning.

More than 500 passengers were marooned on the trains after snow made the trains’ passing impossible, reports USA Today. Those people are now on buses back to Chicago and set to be home soon after the end of their ordeal.

It all started at about 3:30 p.m. CT yesterday when the three trains were stopped about 80 miles from Chicago, an Amtrak spokesman said. Drifting snow and ice were to blame.

Passengers called into various media outlets as conditions deteriorated on the trains, reporting long periods without food, uncomfortable cold and as seems to always happen when passenger vehicles break down, bathroom problems.

“The conditions [ares] cold; we’re wearing coats,” one passenger said. “And my husband is a diabetic. He hasn’t had any food all day. The bathrooms are flooded. The sinks are full with water and the toilets are flooded.”

Another passenger had a better time of it, telling news outlets that on her train, she and other travelers received beef stew and mashed potatoes with a dinner roll, coffee and water yesterday evening. This, despite the fact that staff couldn’t explain what was going on until later.

“The staff of the train have really been trying to make everyone as happy and comfortable as possible,” she said.

The problem could be that one of the two trains didn’t have full-service café cars, only “one food service option,” the lowly snack bar.

“There were always working toilets on all the trains,” the spokesman said, adding that some toilets might have malfunctioned but “we were never without toilets.”

Passengers rescued after night on snowbound trains [USA Today]

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  1. CommonC3nts says:

    If you are ever stranded on an Amtrak train, just use your cell and call someone like a taxi, airport shuttle, or friend to pick you up and dont waste any time. You would be better off going to a random house and offering to pay them to taxi you the rest of the way.
    Do not wait for Amtrak as they will tell you nothing or either lie so you cannot make an informed decision on how to get home. They will literally lie to you to get you to stay on a non-working train then for you to know the truth so you can leave to find another way.

    I was in the same position when my Amtrak train hit a drunk person on the tracks. They stopped the train close to southern Illinois and all the workers jumped off the train and disappeared leaving all the passengers 100% alone at 8pm at night. I still to this day have no idea where the workers went (maybe they went to another car to hide out or maybe they just walked off the train and called taxi’s on Amtraks dime)
    No one knew what to do as we were left for dead. Someone got through to the Amtrak 1800 and the phone rep at least had the courtesy to say “your train hit person” but lied saying “the dely should only be an hour to get a new engine to finish driving the train”.
    There was no food, no water, or bathroom facilities for those 11 hours. Passengers where sharing what they had in the bags.
    Ending up Amtrak did not get a new engine until about 7am (almost 12 hours later) and then it was a freight train engine so none of the power worked as it was not equiped to connect to passenger trains. Amtrak took us to middle of nowhere southern illinois to wait at an empty train depot for busses from St. Louis to pick us up and drive us the rest of the way to chicago.

    So if you ever find ourself in a situation where a train is stopped just call everyone you can to find someone to pick you up so you can ditch the train and get to where you need to go without wasting 12 more hours than you have to.

  2. JustPassingBy says:

    I was on an Amtrak train somewhere in Central Florida which struck a large animal. At least the conductor announced the incident and said there would be a delay. There were no roads or towns nearby, so calling a taxi or friend would been in vain.

    Are airlines stranding passengers at the gate or tarmac for hours any better? The airlines don’t say anything either when there’s a delay.

    • CommonC3nts says:

      At an airport you have food, bathroom facilities, you can go get a hotel room, you can try to catch other flights, you can try to take a bus, you can even just rent a car and drive.

      On Amtrak they lie to you so you cannot make an informed decision.
      If they tell you the truth that you are going to be stopped for 12 hours then you can find a way out.

      You may think you are in the middle of nowhere buy you could be 10 minutes by car from a populated city or town. Unless you are going out west then most likely you will always be near civilization.
      You can use your cell internet to find a taxi to take you to a rental car place.
      You can use your cell internet to post on reddit “I am near city, state at these GPS coordinates anyone out there want to save me from this train and take me to this rental car place here??!!!??”
      I bet you will find someone quickly willing to help you.

      Eitherway if Amtrak is going to fail they need to inform you properly so you can decide to wait it out or to find another way to your destination.

      • JustPassingBy says:

        I agree that if stuck in an airport there are facilities available. The same goes for being in a train station. But the subject is being stuck on a train or on an airplane. Either way unless it’s an emergency, you are not going to be allowed to exit.