On Monday night, passengers on an Amtrak train began to panic after being delayed for 37 hours, many of whom called 911 believing they were being held hostage.
The Auto Train departed from Virginia on Monday at 5 pm carrying 563 passengers and 333 vehicles. It was meant to arrive in Orlando, Florida at 10 am the next morning. However, the train was forced to reroute after a CSX freight train ran into a vehicle that was left on the tracks in South Carolina, causing a 20-plus hour delay.
The train was diverted to Denmark, South Carolina where it had to wait for a new crew to arrive because, by policy, the initial crew wasn’t allowed to continue operating the longer-than-expected trip. However, a replacement crew was not immediately available and the train was forced to wait for several hours.
Although the transportation company insisted that it provided updates on the situation, passengers began calling 911 when the train was stuck in the woods in rural South Carolina.
After getting reports of the 911 calls, a conductor spoke to the passengers over the loudspeaker telling them to stop calling the police.
“For those of you that are calling the police, we are not holding you hostage,” the conductor said, sounding unamused. “We are giving you all the information in which we have. We are sorry about the inconvenience.”
“As soon as more information is available we will let you know shortly,” the conductor added.
BREAKING: A travel nightmare is unfolding right now on Amtrak. Passengers on the Auto Train have been stuck on board for 29+ hours, currently sitting in the woods in rural South Carolina. Passengers called the local police saying they’re being held hostage.
— Sam Sweeney (@SweeneyABC) January 11, 2023
“The train was detoured off its normal route in order to continue operating south,” reported Amtrak. “We have been providing regular updates to customers, along with meals, snack packs, and beverages. The onboard staff is working with pet owners to provide bathroom breaks.”
One of the passengers on the train, Colleen McKenna, shared her experience with Fox news. She said, “I woke up about 6 am on Tuesday, and we were stopped in North Carolina and I spoke with one of my attendants, and he just said that there was a derailment of a train in front of us, so we’re going to have to take a detour.”
McKenna said that the crew had little idea what was going on and was not able to provide an ETA for the passengers. She also reported that after the train eventually crossed over into South Carolina, they stopped for another six hours.
The “hostage” announcement was comical to McKenna, but she did understand why some passengers might have been concerned since they weren’t allowed to get off the train. Although they were locked in the train, McKenna insists she “didn’t feel unsafe.”
The train arrived safely at its destination on Wednesday morning.