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Amtrak passengers stranded for 29 hours feared they had been kidnapped

Hundreds of Amtrak passengers in South Carolina were stranded on a train for more than a day, prompting several to call the police out of fear they were being held hostage.

The train, which departed from Washington DC, was delayed for more than 29 hours after being rerouted due to a derailed CSX freight train, reported ABC News.

Panicked passengers fearing a more serious situation eventually began dialling 911, prompting the conductor to announce, “For those of you that are calling the police, we are not holding you hostage.”

The autotrain, which allows passengers to travel with their vehicles, was set to arrive in Sanford, Florida, at about 10am on Tuesday. But after a scheduled stop in Lorton, Virginia, at 5.30pm on Monday, it halted in a wooded area in Denmark, South Carolina, an hour outside of Columbia.

After a long wait, the employees “timed out”, meaning they could not legally operate the train, and had to wait for a new crew to arrive. The train had limited food supplies and multiple pets in need of a bathroom break, reported the Washington Post.

The major delays caused several people onboard the train to panic and call 911. Frustrated staff asked them to stop.

“For those of you that are calling the police, we are not holding you hostage,” said one conductor in a recorded video of the announcement. “We are giving you all the information which we have. We are sorry about the inconvenience.”

The conductor also reminded passengers not to open their windows to smoke.

Throughout the ordeal, several trapped passengers took to social media to air their frustrations.

“Any help heading towards the fully booked Amtrak auto train full of elderly passengers that is now almost 10 hours past arrival time? No food, no access to medical care, crew has disembarked, no replacement. Stuck in SC,” wrote one Twitter user, who also tagged the US transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg.

An Amtrak spokesperson, Christina Leeds, stated the delays were caused by the derailed freight train and that Amtrak had “[provided] regular updates to customers, along with meals, snack packs and beverages”.

The train, which carried 563 passengers and 333 vehicles, finally reached its destination on Wednesday morning.

Amtrak service has been increasingly affected by delays, cancellations and other travel chaos.

In June 2022, over 25% of Amtrak customers experienced delays. Cancellations, while rare, also increased during the summer, reported the Washington Post. More recently, inclement weather through the midwestern region in December caused major delays. In Chicago, several trains were delayed by a winter storm.

This article originally appeared on The Guardian

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