Amtrak travelers heading to Sanford, Florida from Lorton, Virginia on Monday night spent far more time on the rails than they expected, as Auto Train 53 arrived at its final destination more than 20 hours behind schedule. .
The train left Fairfax County, Virginia, around 5 pm Monday, with an expected arrival time of 10 am Tuesday. But the train didn’t arrive at the Florida station until around 6:20 a.m. Wednesday, meaning the passengers spent more than 36 hours on the train in total.
The immense delay was caused by a freight train with at least 20 cars derailing in Lake City, South Carolina, around 8 p.m. Monday. No one was injured in the derailment, but a blockage on the tracks left passengers detained overnight in Hamlet, North Carolina.
At 8 a.m. Tuesday, two hours before passengers should have arrived in Sanford, Auto Train 53 began moving again.
Then at 3 p.m. Tuesday, the train stopped a second time at Denmark, North Carolina. The long delay meant that the Amtrak crew had timed out their shifts and could not continue working.
The train started its journey again Tuesday night after a new Amtrak crew boarded at least six hours later than expected. The passengers finally arrived in Sanford shortly before 6:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Colleen McKenna, a Miami University student from North Potomac, Maryland, was frustrated that her trip back to school for the start of the spring semester was so delayed and criticized Amtrak’s handling of the situation.
According to McKenna, the only update Amtrak gave her during the hours they spent in Denmark, North Carolina, was a written notice that read: “Your new equipment is estimated to arrive in approximately two hours. We apologize for the long delay and appreciate it.” his extended patience.”
“That’s the only update. They don’t say what we’re going to do after that,” McKenna said in a video interview from the train. “I’m supposed to meet my parents in Miami, so they’ve been there all day waiting for me to move in. So it’s just me, stuck here.”
After arriving in Sanford Wednesday morning, McKenna told NBC Washington that he hopes this never happens to him again.
Amtrak did not respond to numerous phone and email requests for comment as of 1 p.m. Wednesday.