CHICAGO (WLS) — Passengers lived through an Amtrak nightmare over the weekend, getting stuck on a train from Detroit to Chicago for 19 hours without electricity, bathrooms, water or food.
Jake Tobias and Melissa Behring, who live in the Detroit area, had planned a big trip to Chicago Friday. They boarded their Amtrak train in Royal Oak, Mich., early Friday morning.
“It was set up to leave at 6 in the morning, roughly, and get in around 10:30 local time in Chicago,” Tobias said.
But the journey, which is typically about five hours, turned into a 19-hour ordeal.
Amtrak said the train the couple was on had a “mechanical issue” and had to stop west of Ann Arbor to couple with another train. Passengers on the train said that was an understatement.
“Within the first hour they ran out of water. There was no water for anybody to drink,” Behring said. “They said they were calling crews, they were calling engineering crews hoping to get some power restored.”
The couple said power was never restored for the rest of their ride.
And the delays didn’t stop there. Amtrak said a passenger medical issue forced another delay, and by the time the train reached Hammond, Ind., the couple said Amtrak crews told them they couldn’t work anymore.
“They said our workers have hit their hourly limit. We’re going to have to wait for a new crew,” Tobias said.
So Tobias, Behring and dozens of other passengers took matters into their own hands.
“We jumped off the train,” said Tobias. “We were following from other people through the woods. We hopped the fence. We waited by the side of the road, tried to get an Uber on the freeway.”
Without a platform, it was a 6-foot drop coupled with crossing over multiple tracks. By this time it was around 9 pm, nearly 15 hours after the couple started their journey. It eventually took them 19 hours in all to get to Chicago.
For those who didn’t get off the train in northwest Indiana, Amtrak says it finally arrived in Chicago at 12:03 am
“I really think that they needed a plan to get people off those trains when they didn’t function and move them to their destination,” Behring said.
Amtrak issued a statement, saying in part, “We began contacting customers from both trains over the weekend to repeat our apologies and offer them refunds or transportation credit for a future trip, at their option.”
Passengers ABC7 spoke with said while the compensation is a nice offer, the question many have is what about compensation for the plans either rescheduled, canceled or lost.
Full statement from Amtrak
Train 351 was stopped west of Ann Arbor, MI due to a mechanical issue. Train 353 then coupled to Train 351, and the train operated as a “double train” to Chicago. The combined trains arrived in Chicago at 12:03 am, 13.5 hours behind schedule on Train 351’s schedule, 10 hours behind on Train 353’s schedule. Train 351 had 203 passengers aboard for Chicago, Train 353 had 247.
In addition to mechanical issues, Trains 351/353 stopped again to be met by Emergency Medical Services for a passenger onboard. The passenger remained onboard and the train continued west.
Train 351 was delayed for about 7 hours, and Train 353 for approximately 3.5 hours. When doubled up, 351/353 were delayed approximately 4.5 hours.
The combined trains arrived in Chicago at 12:03 am, 13.5 hours behind schedule on Train 351’s schedule, 10 hours behind on Train 353’s schedule. Train 351 had 203 passengers aboard for Chicago, Train 353 had 247.
We began contacting customers from both trains over the weekend to repeat our apologies and offer them refunds or transportation credit for a future trip, at their option.
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