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232 Amtrak riders board buses after being stranded

June 30, 2012
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PRINCE, W.Va.—A storm that knocked down trees across several states stranded 232 Amtrak passengers for more than 20 hours at a West Virginia station before they were picked up by buses on Saturday night.

Amtrak spokesman Steve Kulm said all the passengers were loaded onto buses that will ferry them to their eventual destination. They departed by 8:20 p.m. Saturday and will stop at train stations along the original route from New York to Chicago.

The riders had been stranded near the town of Prince since about 11 p.m. Friday because fallen trees were blocking the tracks in front of the train and behind it.

Kulm said the train had power, lights and air conditioning. Passengers could get in and out because they were parked at a station. The train was also stocked with food.

Brooke Richart, a 26-year-old teacher from New York City, said she spent more than 20 hours stranded. She said she read half a book, talked to the people around her and took walks outside the train.

"We tried to walk up the side of the mountain to see if anyone could get cell service. We didn't have cell service the entire time we were down there," she said.

She was traveling to her hometown of Cincinnati. She said the ride had mostly been smooth, with a few delays, before they stopped in Prince. The storm had already passed through by the time they stopped there. She fell asleep on the train not knowing how long they'd be stuck there.

She said the train attendants and her fellow passengers were extremely nice -- watching each others' children and sharing food.

However, she said her family had a hard time figuring out where she was in conversations with Amtrak customer service representatives. By the time the buses arrived, her father had also come to pick her up and drive her the rest of the way.

"It gets a little trying," she said. "Thankfully we could go in and out of the train because we were there so long. If you wanted to stretch your legs or take a walk, you could do that."

The stranded train was first reported by the transportation blog Jalopnik.

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