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EXCLUSIVE: Passenger On Wrong Way Train Speaks Out

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By Elizabeth Hur

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –An update on the wayward Amtrak train – bound for New York City that ended up on SEPTA tracks in the Philadelphia suburbs. (See Related Story)

We first told you about it Tuesday night and now a passenger outraged by Amtrak’s handling of the fiasco is speaking out exclusively to Eyewitness News as Amtrak officials announce they have completed their investigation.

Craig Schulz, Amtrak Spokesman explained, “There was a little bit of confusion. The crew made a mistake. They essentially went past where they were supposed to go. We apologize to anybody who was inconvenienced by this situation.”

For Eileen, who asked that we withhold her last name, as a passenger on that troubled train, she believes the way Amtrak handled this mistake is inexcusable.

“Things happen in life, we understand that but there was no communication, no information. The way this was handled by the Amtrak personnel, it’s just wrong,” Eileen went onto say, “The fact that it’s a single track that goes into Bala Cynwyd, what if? For them to gloss over it I think is where my frustration comes from. This could have been a tragedy.”

But officials maintain, the 130 passengers onboard Amtrak train 644 last Thursday were never in danger. We’re told the conductor missed a turn and the crew made sure the line was free and clear before continuing on the SEPTA line to the Bala Cynwyd station.

Schulz said, “The train had a mechanical problem. The decision was made that we needed to turn the train around and of course in the railroad business, you can’t just turn around like you would in your car. The crew was instructed to basically take the train out to a point on the railroad where they could turn around and execute this move. If there had been another train then the signal system would have alerted the crew so given that there were clear signals that the conductor saw, they continued.”

“Nothing was said like, we have help on the way, we have transportation to get you back to 30th Street. No customer service, dear Lord, it was as if it was our fault that we’re sitting in Bala Cynwyd instead of Penn Station,” Eileen recalled being stranded at the station and said she had to find her own way back to 30th Street Station to get on a different train to New York City, “I was there for a good hour on that corner watching and everybody that I saw were picked up by friends, cab or car service.”

Schulz responded, “The crew was taken out of service, fully debriefed, underwent some additional training and that’s where it stands. Obviously making announcements to our customers, letting them know what’s going on is an important aspect of what we do.”

Officials say anyone with additional concerns should contact Amtrak at 1-800-USA-RAIL.

 

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