Amtrak trip turns into 37-hour ordeal; passengers on train for nearly 2 days

Hundreds of passengers on an Amtrak train traveling to Florida were reportedly held on board in...
Hundreds of passengers on an Amtrak train traveling to Florida were reportedly held on board in rural South Carolina for hours.(LOCAL NEWS X/TMX)
Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 2:17 PM MST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2023 at 2:24 PM MST
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SANFORD, Fla. (AP) - A Florida-bound Amtrak passenger train that started in Virginia was delayed for almost a day by the derailment of a freight train and a crew change, stranding hundreds of passengers in rural South Carolina for hours with few options.

The trip on the southbound Amtrak auto train which departed Monday evening from Lorton, Virginia, should have taken 17 hours, but an additional 20 hours was tacked on before it reached its destination in Sanford, Florida, on Wednesday morning.

Video posted to social media recorded a train employee announcing, “We are not holding you hostage,” after some passengers apparently called the police about the delay.

A CSX freight derailment forced the Amtrak train to detour from its normal route, and the train was delayed further in Denmark, South Carolina when a crew change was required since the hours for the previous crew had expired, Amtrak said in a statement.

The auto train allows passengers to travel with their cars, vans and SUVs in vehicle carriers. During the trip, it was carrying 563 passengers and 350 vehicles, according to Amtrak.

“Customers were provided regular updates, along with meals, snack packs, and beverages,” Amtrak said. “Additional food from local businesses along the route was also provided during the trip. The onboard staff worked with pet owners to provide bathroom breaks.”

The CSX train hit an unoccupied vehicle on the tracks in Lake City, South Carolina, late Monday, causing the derailment of 25 rail cars and two locomotives, the company said in a statement. The track wasn’t cleared until Tuesday evening.

“There were no injuries to the crew of the train and no hazardous materials involved,” CSX said.