Passengers on derailed train get to Bay safely
EMERYVILLE, Calif. – The westbound Amtrak train that derailed between Reno and Sacramento on Thursday, leaving 300 passengers and a crew of 15 stranded for more than 14 hours, finally pulled into Emeryville, in the San Francisco Bay area, on Friday morning.
No one was injured in the derailment, which was caused by the extreme weather conditions in the high, rugged mountains near Truckee, Calif., a company spokesman said.
“Our attendant mentioned something was not right, but for a long time we didn’t know what had happened,” said Claeburn Lockwood, who boarded the train in Denver, Col. at 8 a.m. Wednesday with her daughter. “Some people were scared, and that scared me too.”
The California Zephyr train was headed to the Bay area when it derailed at 1 p.m. on Thursday. It got under way again about 3:30 a.m. Friday, Amtrak spokesman Dan Stessel.
Stessel said the exact cause of the derailment was not known, but said it had been snowing heavily in the area at the time of the incident. An eastbound engine used to clear snow from the tracks had passed a site west of the derailment, and authorities suspect it may have piled snow onto the westbound tracks.
Passengers had some food and water on board, but the train suffered power outages that shut off the heat and light when the engines were disconnected so the train could be reassembled on an adjacent track, Stessel said.
“The food ran out at about five in the afternoon,” said Claeburn Lockwood’s 13-year-old daughter, Azzurra Lockwood, adding that the toilets didn’t flush for about 12 hours, increasing the discomfort.
But Claeburn Lockwood, who’s been traveling by train for 20 years, said this was probably just “one of those things that just happen,” and that the staff on board the train were great about accommodating passengers.
The two intend to continue traveling by train, Claeburn Lockwood said as she and her daughter prepared for the 12-hour wait to catch the next train they need to get home to Portland, Ore.
The storm also shut down the main highways linking Northern California and Nevada just hours into the new year. Even local ski resorts, brimming with new snow, shut down on Thursday after facing howling winds of up to 120 miles per hour.
“It is wild up here,” Alpine Meadows spokeswoman Rachael Woods said after the resort on Lake Tahoe’s northwest shore closed down on Thursday. The resort reopened Friday under a heavy blizzard of snow.