Amtrak passengers stuck on train for nearly 30 hours, some calling 911

'We are not holding you hostage,' a conductor can be heard over the loudspeaker in video posted to social media.

BySam Sweeney and Meredith Deliso ABCNews logo
Wednesday, January 11, 2023
Amtrak passengers stuck on train for nearly 30 hours
Passengers on an Amtrak train were left stranded on a rural stretch of track for nearly 30 hours, hundreds of miles from their destination.

DENMARK, S.C. -- Passengers traveling on an Amtrak Auto Train from a Washington, D.C., suburb Monday evening expected to arrive in the Orlando area by Tuesday morning. But their planned 17-hour journey experienced significant delays caused by a freight derailment.

The train rolled into the station in Sanford, Florida, on Wednesday morning, ending the 37-hour trip. The 563 passengers and 333 vehicles onboard had been delayed by almost 20 hours.

The southbound Amtrak Auto Train was detoured off its normal route due to the derailment of a CSX freight Monday night and was stopped in Denmark, South Carolina, while waiting for a new crew to arrive, Amtrak said.

"The train was detoured off its normal route in order to continue operating south," Amtrak told ABC News late Tuesday, confirming that the train was moving again.

"We have been providing regular updates to customers, along with meals, snack packs and beverages," it said. "The onboard staff is working with pet owners to provide bathroom breaks."

The Amtrak Auto Train train, which departed Lorton, Virginia, at 5 p.m. Monday, was initially scheduled to arrive in Sanford, Florida, by 10 a.m. Tuesday. Only a few certified crews are able to operate the Auto Train, which carries passengers and their vehicles daily between the two destinations.

The CSX freight train collided with an unoccupied vehicle on the tracks in Lake City, South Carolina, shortly before 11 p.m. Monday, CSX said in a statement. No injuries were reported.

Auto Train service on Tuesday was canceled, while Silver Meteor and Silver Star trains that departed on Monday are operating on a detour and missing stops due to the derailment, Amtrak said.

Passengers were apparently calling 911 from the train when it was stuck, according to several videos obtained by ABC News in which a conductor can be heard asking people to stop calling police.

"For those of you that are calling the police, we are not holding you hostage," a conductor can be heard over the loudspeaker. "We are giving you all the information in which we have. We are sorry about the inconvenience."

The conductor can also be heard telling people not to open their windows to smoke on the train.