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"Train Ride From Hell" : Senators Demand Answers From Amtrak After Harrowing Passenger Accounts From 37-Hour Delayed Journey

Amtrak Auto Train passengers reported limited access to food, bathrooms, and medical care aboard the train delayed by 20 hours, with some resorting to calling 911 amid confusion & fear of being held hostage

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – After disturbing Amtrak Auto Train passenger accounts from a delayed 37-hour-long journey, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) sent a letter to Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner demanding answers about the incident and an explanation of the company’s policies to ensure adequate customer treatment. 

“While we understand the train was rerouted to avoid an incident on the track and that Amtrak must abide by hours of service laws, it is difficult to imagine a sufficient justification for the distressing conditions passengers described experiencing,” wrote the senators.

Hundreds of passengers aboard last week’s Amtrak Auto Train from Virginia to Florida faced a long delay in their journey due to another train derailing, with one passenger describing it as the “train ride from hell.” During what turned into a 37-hour-long journey, passengers reported limited access to food, bathrooms, and medical care, as well as limited ability for pet owners to disembark, resulting in feces on train floors. Despite Amtrak’s claims of regularly updating customers and providing additional meals and beverages, numerous passengers reported bad conditions and confusion, with some dialing 911 to report being held hostage aboard the delayed train.

“It is concerning that this is not the first multi-hour delay impacting the Auto Train during which passengers described dire conditions,” continued the senators. “Last January, after a severe winter storm, a northbound Auto Train’s journey took about 30 hours – and passengers reported similar experiences on board: poor communication of the train’s status and limited food and water. It is alarming that passengers are suffering the same insufficient treatment during a similar situation more than a year later.”

The lawmakers called for Amtrak to provide answers about the company’s policies and procedures for passenger care and compensation in the event of similar delayed incidents, and “to ensure that Amtrak has robust, humane policies in place to ensure proper passenger treatment during extended delays.”

The full text of the letter can be found here.