Hundreds of passengers left stranded on a train for 20 hours called police over fears they had been kidnapped. The Amtrak service from the Washington DC area to Florida experienced massive delays after being re-routed due to a derailed freight train further up the line.
The Auto Train 53 carrying 563 passengers departed from Lorton, Virginia on Monday evening and was scheduled to arrive in Sanford, Florida at around 10am on Tuesday.
But it came to a stop midway through the journey in a wooded area of Denmark, South Carolina – 408 miles for its destination.
Panicked passengers with limited supplies phoned 911 as they feared the lengthy delay indicated an unfolding hostage situation.
In a bid to ease their anxiety, a conductor announced: “For those of you that are calling the police, we are not holding you hostage.
“We are giving you all the information of which we have.
“We are sorry about the inconvenience. As soon as more information is available, we will let you know shortly.”
The train, carrying 333 vehicles belonging to passengers, then had to wait for new crew members to arrive to replace the original crew members who had timed out.
Those onboard eventually arrived at their destination on Wednesday morning.
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“We have been providing regular updates to customers, along with meals, snack packs and beverages.
“The onboard staff is working with pet owners to provide bathroom breaks.”
Other passengers voiced their frustrations on social media.
Twitter user Coolen (@collmckenna) wrote: “The situation for Auto Train 53 from Lorton, VA to Sanford, FL is ridiculous. We have been on the train for 25 hours and are only in Denmark, SC. We haven’t moved in 3+ hours and are still waiting for a new crew to arrive.
“Should arrive in Sanford. No information about what happens when we arrive as it will likely be the middle of the night at this point. I understand unforeseen circumstances occur, but this has been handled so poorly.”
The CSX freight train which caused the delays came off its tracks in Lake CIty, South Carolina, with 25 carriages impacted, the rail firm said in a statement.