Amtrak Trains Stuck Near Donner Pass

By: Daniel Chanin Email
By: Daniel Chanin Email

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Nearly 400 people were trapped Friday when
two Amtrak passenger trains were stranded in the snowy Northern
California mountains after a large snow plow fell through the
tracks, officials said.

Amtrak's California Zephyr passenger trains were stranded near
Donner Pass around 2 p.m. after a large plow being used to clear
the tracks fell through a walkway and blocked the trains' path,
according to Amtrak spokeswoman Karina Romero.

One train started in Emeryville on its way to Chicago, and the
other was on its way back.

Romero said late Friday that Union Pacific was bringing in a
crane to clear the large snow plow from the trains' path. She
expected the tracks would be cleared by 4 a.m.

Meanwhile, the westbound train was being pulled back to Reno and
the 165 passengers onboard would be put up in a hotel overnight.

The eastbound train could not be moved, however, and Romero said
the passengers would sleep in their seats or in reserved sleeping
cars for the night.

She said both trains have heating and lights and that passengers
were being fed. No injuries have been reported.

"The weather report says it is only a light snow right now,
it's not like it was earlier," Romero said.

A Union Pacific spokeswoman, Zoe Richmond, confirmed that the
company's equipment was blocking the tracks but had no other
information on the incident. She said the West Coast's stormy
weather has hammered Union Pacific's tracks so far in 2008.

Crews in Oregon have been working for two weeks to clear a
mudslide that dumped up to 20 feet of mud and rocks on tracks used
by an Amtrak line to shuttle passengers between Los Angeles and
Seattle, Richmond said. Service on that line has been halted since
the mudslide, she said.

"The start of the year has just been plagued with
weather-related issues," Richmond said.

Amtrak's Romero said Amtrak tried to summon buses from nearby
towns to evacuate passengers, but have had little luck because many
of the vehicles are in Arizona for the Super Bowl.


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