The Silver Meteor left Orlando, Fla., at 1 p.m. Thursday and was stuck in Jacksonville, Fla., for 12 hours. It was then stalled for half a day south of Savannah, waiting for the freight train to be moved. It finally pulled into Penn Station at 11:30 a.m. Saturday – 25 hours after it was supposed to. The incident is another black eye for Amtrak, which lost a half-billion dollars last year and has been battered by competition from airlines and criticism about delays and shoddy equipment. Amtrak spokeswoman Tracy Connell apologized for the snafu but blamed CSX, the freight line, for low-balling its estimate of how long it would take to clear the derailment. “We thought the best thing to do was hold the trains, but it kept getting pushed back,” she said. “The derailment happened in an inconvenient location where we had no alternate route.” Amtrak tried to charter buses for passengers but couldn’t find any on a holiday weekend, she said. As for complaints about food running out, Connell said there was plenty on board – as long as passengers were willing to pay for it with their credit cards. Asked why Amtrak didn’t give hungry riders meals during the delay, Connell said, “I don’t know.” She added that boxed lunches were given out when the train got to South Carolina. Not everyone on the Silver Meteor was furious with Amtrak. Sharon Sjogren, of Baldwin, N.Y., who was traveling with her 16-month-old daughter, said the crew was “wonderful” and did the best they could. Still, she conceded the trip from Jacksonville might be her last by rail. “We’re all afraid of flying, but this might have cured us,” she said. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson Some of the 250 passengers stuck on board told tales of clogged toilets, crying babies and families that didn’t have enough cash for extra meals in the dining car. “They didn’t want to feed us or nothing,” said Georgette Neal, a mother from Brooklyn who was traveling with her three kids. “It’s just the worst.” Riders pooled money with strangers to buy food they shared among themselves. Elderly passengers fretted about not having enough medication to get them through the delay. Airline worker Patricia Greaves, 46, ended up paying for a hotel room she never slept in. Karen Chiel, a mother of two from Port Washington, N.Y., said her low point came when she saw seven armed sheriff’s deputies running through the train in Savannah, apparently responding to an upset rider. “It was an absolute nightmare of a trip,” she said. NEW YORK – The Amtrak train that was delayed for more than 24 hours finally pulled into Penn Station on Saturday – long after many passengers had run out of toilet paper, food and patience. “I can guarantee I will never step foot on another Amtrak again,” said Bernard Marcoccia, 44, a truck driver from Syracuse, N.Y. “They treated us worse than the freight. “I hate their guts. They were absolutely useless, totally incompetent, totally unprepared.” The Silver Meteor from Florida to New York was stalled twice after a freight train derailed in Savannah, Ga., at a “choke point” on a north-south line, authorities said.
Hanukkah story time with songs, 7-8 p.m. today at Barnes & Noble, 23630 Valencia Blvd., Valencia. Call (661) 254-6604. Hanukkah Family Festival will feature children’s crafts, live music, entertainment, hot latkes and a raffle, 6 p.m. Wednesday at Westfield Valencia Town Center, 24201 Valencia Blvd., Valencia. Sponsored by Chabad of SCV. Call (661) 254-3434. — To submit an event for the Holiday Calendar, contact Sharon Cotal at (661) 257-5256, fax her at (661) 257-5262, e-mail her at [email protected] or write to her at 24800 Avenue Rockefeller, Valencia, CA 91355. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!