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Heartland Flyer passengers stranded in long night on train


We’ve heard stories of passengers stuck on planes, unable to use the facilities, sitting for hours without food.

Now some Oklahomans can relate after they said they were stuck on the Heartland Flyer as it returned from Texas over the weekend.

While they did have access to restrooms, passengers said it was still frustrating.

Christina Gayler and her family had taken the train to Fort Worth Saturday morning for a day trip to the zoo.

On their way back, the trip took a bad turn.

She said they got on the Heartland Flyer, leaving Fort Worth on time, at 5:25 pm.

They were scheduled to arrive in Oklahoma City at 9:39 p.m. Saturday; that didn’t happen.

Christina said, “It was a nightmare.”

About two hours later, one delay after another.

An Amtrak spokesperson said the delays were mostly weather-related.

Some of the issues may have even been the result of lightning striking the train.

Christina said, at one point, they were told the engine died.

She said getting a new one there took hours.

She said, “There was no air flow. We weren’t allowed to use the restrooms. They didn’t
want us using the bathroom. They didn’t want us moving. The engine had failed.”

Bathroom breaks were allowed when power was on but that was on and off.

Amtrak officials tell us passengers were offered complimentary beverages during trip.

Christina disputes that.

She said, “Water, if it was running and if you were lucky enough to get it.”

Once they were back on their way, things were going well, until just past the Norman station.

Christina said it was almost 5 a.m., the crew said they had reached their shift limit and a new crew was on the way.

Passengers were told they could wait or this time they were allowed to get off.

Christina said, “It was hop off the train jump over rocks and call a ride.”

A move Christina and her family took.

Amtrak records show the train did arrive back at the Oklahoma City station at 5:34 a.m., seven hours and 55 minutes after the scheduled arrival time and more than 12 hours after leaving Fort Worth.  

Christina said it will likely be a long time before they ride the train again.

Amtrak officials told us they regret disappointing the passengers.

They said numerous weather-related issues were the main cause of the delays.

They do encourage those who were on the train to contact Amtrak Customer Relations by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL.