SANFORD, Fla. - As if there haven’t been enough travel nightmares with planes recently, 563 Amtrak passengers are finally breathing a sigh of relief after what they are calling a terrible train travel experience.
A crash that derailed a CSX train led to a 20-hour delay (and ultimately a 37-hour trip) for Amtrak passengers trying to get from the Washington, D.C. area to Sanford, Florida.
Hannah Dore was one of those passengers.
"I felt like I was going crazy," Dore told FOX 35 News. "Because at first, we didn’t have any idea of when we’d be moving again, so the unknowing of it all was a lot."
CSX told FOX 35 News their train hit an unoccupied vehicle in Lake City, South Carolina around 11 p.m. Monday. That led to 25 rail cars and two locomotives being derailed.
A CSX representative told FOX 35, "There were no injuries to the crew of the train and no hazardous materials involved. CSX crews safely cleared the tracks and train operations resumed at reduced speeds around 5 p.m. Tuesday."
That derailment also led four Amtrak trains to be held up.
The one heading from the D.C. area to Sanford left around 5:00 p.m. Monday and wound up stuck in South Carolina and then eventually detoured because of the CSX crash.
"If it was any longer, it would’ve gotten kind of scary, but at that point, I was just annoyed and claustrophobic," said Dore.
Amtrak told FOX 35 News in a statement, "Customers were provided regular updates, along with meals, snack packs, and beverages. Additional food from local businesses along the route was also provided during the trip. The onboard staff worked with pet owners to provide bathroom breaks."
Dore told FOX 35 the part in that statement about the animals was true – though they weren’t "pets" but rather service animals. The part about the food, she says, was not the most honest.
"Yeah, I’ve been seeing that, and I want to know where I was when that happened!" she laughed, saying Amtrak's version of their efforts was not accurate. "They came around later in the night with little snack packs, but it was stuff you get from Safeway, it wasn’t a lot."
Dore says eventually, the trainer ran out of food.
"They only had enough for two meals per passenger. So they ran out of meals. I had to go up to the café car and buy food, which – there wasn’t much left to pick from."
Dore did emphasize, she doesn't blame the Amtrak employees and said they did their best. She believes the fault lies at the corporate level.
Dore says the whole experience was annoying and frustrating, but not traumatic.
"It sucks that we had a whole day wasted, basically. A day that I was supposed to be with family."
The type of ride she was on is one that includes sleeping spaces and transports riders’ vehicles for them, so it’s a more expensive ticket. Amtrak originally offered customers vouchers, but shortly after changes its tune to promise refunds.
Dore says she and her mother are getting around $800 refunded.