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Amtrak Passengers Furious At "Ridiculous" 13-Hour Delay

CHICAGO (CBS) -- An Amtrak train headed from Chicago to New York and Boston was delayed for more than 13 hours, and scores of passengers were left scratching their heads, due to several conflicting explanations for the holdup.

The Lake Shore Limited train, carrying about 170 passengers, was supposed to leave Union Station at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, but didn't move out of the station until early Thursday morning, and then head to go back because the company that owns the tracks on which the train runs wanted the train crew to be more rested, according to Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari. It didn't move again until 10:45 a.m. Thursday.

Faith Barlow, who was headed home to Albany, New York, from Flagstaff, Arizona, was expecting a six-hour layover when she arrived in Chicago around 3 p.m., but she didn't expect that wait to turn into a nearly daylong ordeal, with several chilly hours just waiting for her train to pull up to the platform.

First, passengers were told there was a weather-related mechanical problem, and then later were told it needed to pick up another car.

"We were supposed to leave at 9:30. They told us that there was going to be a delay," she said. "They said, 'Oh, you know, it'll be fine. It's just going to be a little delay. …Then they came back on and they said 'Okay, well, the train is going to be pulling in any minute. Everybody line up. Get your IDs ready. Get your tickets ready.'"


Passengers later were told their train wasn't ready to go, because he brakes weren't working.

After a couple hours of waiting, passengers were given cookies, crackers, and water; later they also were given coffee and hot cocoa. Around 2 a.m., after sitting around for more than four hours, Barlow and other passengers were cold and frustrated. She said Amtrak employees handed out blankets, but they were too thin to do much good.

"It's very cold in here, because the train station is not 24/7, so we're the only people in here at this point. You know, it's an uncomfortable situation," she said.

Passengers finally boarded their train around 3 a.m., and about 30 minutes later, it began leaving the station, but another 30 minutes later, the train started going backwards and returned to Union Station.

Barlow said passengers were told the reason they were turning around was the conductor had already worked 12 hours, and could not work any longer. But when the passengers talked to the conductor himself, he told them that wasn't true.

"We're getting all of these conflicting answers as to what is really going on," she said. "The brakes, when we did move out of the station, they did not sound right. They didn't sound right. They were screeching. It didn't sound healthy like a normal train does."

Barlow said it was absurd that passengers were being forced to wait too long, and no one could give them a straight answer about why the train couldn't leave.

"This is kind of ridiculous that we've been forced to wait this long, and have all of these conflicting stories of what's going on," she said. "Who is really running this thing?"

The train finally started on its way to Boston and New York around 10:45 a.m., after several passengers already had taken advantage of refunds.

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