Stranded for 36 hours: Amtrak arrives in Eugene

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — An Amtrak train that was stuck on the tracks near Oakridge, Oregon since Sunday night arrived in Eugene around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Amtrak said 183 passengers were aboard the Coast Starlight Train 11, which was traveling from Seattle to Los Angeles, when it hit a tree around 6:30 p.m. that had fallen onto the tracks. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

Nearly 200 passengers arrived in Eugene on Tuesday morning after being stuck on the train for more than 36 hours, Feb. 26, 2019. (KOIN)

Amtrak said it made the decision to keep passengers on the train in the interest of safety because electricity was out in Oakridge, roads were blocked and the area was covered with more than a foot of snow.

After being stuck for more than 36 hours, the train started to slowly make its way toward the Eugene station — taking another several hours before arriving.

Watch: Kohr Harlan talks to Amtrak passengers

Some passengers were upset that Amtrak didn’t communicate enough, however, majority seemed to have a rather pleasant experience.

Passenger Marsha said the train crew was "amazing" despite being stranded for so long, Feb. 26, 2019. (KOIN)

“The train crew was amazing,” passenger Marsha said. “So professional and so kind.”

Marsha’s sentiment was echoed by numerous people on the train.

One woman was traveling with her dog. She told KOIN 6 News that the crew made sure her pet was able to get off the train every 5 hours to go to the bathroom.

While the train ride was much longer than expected, the passengers praised the train crew for their hard work and even said the experience helped them bond with other passengers.

“People were playing cards and after halfway through, you started seeing the social walls just coming down,” passenger Tom Reitter said. “People talking to other people who wouldn’t talk otherwise. Before long, people sharing stories. I think we all outta meet up there a year from now and see what’s happening with everybody.”

Amtrak Executive Vice President and COO Scot Naparstek released a statement Tuesday morning, apologizing for the delay.

“We sincerely regret the extended delay customers on the southbound Coast Starlight experienced due to extreme weather issues while traveling with Amtrak. With more than a foot of heavy snow and numerous trees blocking the track, we made every decision in the best interest of the safety of our customers during the unfortunate sequence of events. With local power outages and blocked roads, it was decided the safest place for our customers was to remain on the train where we were able to provide food, heat, electricity and toilets. Amtrak crews worked with local resources and the train is now enroute north to Eugene, Oregon. We will be contacting customers to provide refunds and other compensation as appropriate.”

According to Amtrak Alerts, the train is scheduled to head back to Seattle and depart Wednesday.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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