Passengers stranded for over 12 hours after train breaks down near Henrico station

Posted at 10:39 AM, Jul 08, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-08 11:35:00-04

By Nacarla Webb, Scott Wise and Jake Burns

Henrico County (WTVR) — After a more than 12-hour delay, Amtrak train 91 arrived at the Staples Mill station in Henrico County about 6:45 a.m. The Washington D.C. to Miami-bound train broke down Sunday evening less than two miles from the Richmond-area train station. It was due to arrive into Richmond around 5 p.m. Sunday.

“Apologies are meaningless these days, when there’s options and there’s ways to fix things,” passenger Kevin Smith, of Petersburg, said after spending 20 hours on the train. “I don’t need apologies. All I needed was to continue on my journey and be let off the train.”

An Amtrak spokesperson said an issue with an axle in the train’s dining car caused the delay. The spokesperson said crews tried to remove the dining car, which did not work.

“The [Amtrak] employees can’t be faulted. It’s obviously an equipment problem. The conductor was very nice. He told us exactly what was wrong. But that was four or five or six hours into the ordeal,” Smith said. “You can’t fault the employees. They’re a victim of this like we are.”

When asked why the estimated 260 passengers were kept on the train so long, the Amtrak spokesperson said that unless there is an emergency on board the train, the passengers are not permitted to leave if the train is stranded on the tracks between two stations.

Henrico Police said the train broke at Mountain and Hungary Roads. Officers were called in around 12:45 a.m. to help Amtrak police.

“There’s better ways to do it,” Smith said. “If you are a corporation that alienates its customers base, you ain’t going to have customers. I think Amtrak could have solved this a lot sooner than 20 hours. “