OAKRIDGE, Ore. — As record snow keeps falling in Oregon, almost 200 people remain trapped on an Amtrak train that came to a sudden stop Sunday evening south of Eugene.
The train hit a tree that had fallen onto the tracks. It hasn’t moved more than 30 hours. But with heat, power and (so far) food, passengers say the mood onboard is surprisingly upbeat.
“It’s just been like a giant kumbaya party,” Rebekah Dodson told CNN early Tuesday. “Strangers are playing cards. A teenager played his ukulele to kids to get them to sleep. Ladies who have never met before were dancing in aisles.”
Still, she said the “ordeal” is stressful, of course, as passengers cannot go anywhere. The train is surrounded by feet of snow. Some Los Angeles-bound college students have “panicked” because their professors won’t accept their excuse for missing class, Dodson said.
Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told CNN that none of the 183 passengers and dozen crew members were injured, but that “conditions further deteriorated with numerous track blockages from snow and fallen trees.”
“Due to worsening conditions, area road closures and no viable way to safely transport passengers or crews via alternate transportation, Train 11 stopped in Oakridge, Oregon,” he said. “We are actively working with Union Pacific to clear the right of way and get passengers off the train.”
The train had power and enough food on board — for which passengers will not be charged, Amtrak said on Twitter on Monday.
But Dodson said Tuesday morning that passengers had been told breakfast was the last meal available. She was trying to return home to Kalamath after a teaching conference in Portland.
She said the passengers include families with children and a few dozen college students — including about 20 students from Japan. Crew members had been “professional and nice” throughout.
Passenger Carly Bigby told CNN affiliate KOIN 6 the snack cart on the train is empty and people have run out of diapers for their children.
“A lot of the [older] kids have been really good but they’re having to run up and down and it’s a lot,” she told the news station. “Especially the food — it’s not really food they’re liking. Moms are doing all they can right now.”
Bigby also said some people don’t have good cell phone reception in the area where the train is stuck, and haven’t been able to easily contact their family. Train 11, which operates daily between Seattle and Los Angeles, struck the fallen tree around 6:18 p.m. Sunday, Magliari said.
Amtrak anticipates the train will return to Eugene on Tuesday morning, he said.