UP Derailment Strands Illinois Amtrak Passengers

A freight train derailment combined with an incident with a truck on Monday night turned into a 14-hour ordeal for some Lincoln Service passengers bound for St. Louis.

And most of the passengers didn’t make it by rail to their destinations. Instead, they wound up going back to Chicago.

Train No. 307 departed Chicago on Monday at 7 p.m. with 150 passengers.

The first major delay occurred near Joliet due to a truck accident. Amtrak Spokesman Marc Magliari said No. 307 was stopped there for four hours.

The train then had to halt near Dwight after a Union Pacific grain train train derailed about five miles north of Pontiac at Cayuga.

Nine covered hoppers of the UP train left the tracks as the train was departing a siding that serves a Bunge Corp. grain elevator at Cayuga.

The Livingston County sheriff said nine rail cars carrying corn derailed at the Prairie Central Co-op elevator located near Route 66 and 2000 North Road.

The derailment also reported demolished a Railcrew Xpress van. Two employees of that company, contracted by UP to ferry rail crews, jumped from the van when they saw the train derailing and escaped injury.

The train was moving at about 5 mph at the time of the derailment. The sheriff’s Department said a mechanical error with the rails caused the UP train to derail.

As it was, Amtrak’s Lincoln Service had been canceled on Tuesday due to scheduled track work. Passengers were to be bused.

The Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle was to detour over another Union Pacific route through the eastern part of the state.

The southbound Lincoln Service train that was halted on Monday by the UP derailment was instead sent back to Chicago, arriving there early Tuesday morning.

Once in Chicago, passengers were put on buses to get to their destinations.

Amtrak said in a statement that it would offer compensation to the passengers for their inconvenience.

“They told us it was going to be a two hour delay and it kept getting longer and longer,” said Autumn Brooks, an Amtrak passenger.
Michelle Owens said she was unable take her daily medication. “I got a kidney transplant nine years ago. I couldn’t take it because they weren’t offering food except for a little bag of crackers or cookies and that was it,” Owens said.

“They wanted to sell their food to us, basically profiting from the fact that we were stuck on their train,” said Jake Dorris, another Amtrak passenger.

The train arrived back in Union Station just before 9 a.m. on Tuesday. The already exhausted passengers had to wait another hour before boarding buses provided by Amtrak to take them to their destinations.

“We’re going to deal with these passengers individually. We will talk to every one of them to assess what went well and what didn’t. We apologize profusely. There was nothing we could do to make the train go further because the tracks were closed,” Magliari said.

The last bus carrying passengers from Train 307 pulled out of Union Station just before 11 a.m., about 16 hours after their original journey began.

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