Coal train derails return for Amtrak passengers



Posted on January 27, 2014 at 7:42 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 27 at 9:05 PM

When your train stops on the tracks on the way home from Canada, these are not the words you want to hear: "They came on and told us, 'this could get ugly,"' said Kathy Colwell.

Kathy and her husband Steve were celebrating their 46th wedding anniversary in Vancouver this past weekend, when the trip home came to a screeching halt.

"We started thinking it would be a 3 hour delay, then a 4 hour delay," said Steve. It ended up being a 61/2 hour delay -- 10 hours to get from Vancouver to Seattle. A broken down coal train was to blame for clogging the tracks north of Bellingham Monday night.

"Bathrooms were overflowing, babies were crying, people were pounding on the doors to get out," said Kathy.

The couple says things got so bad, some simply couldn't take it anymore and called for cabs to come drive them to Seattle.

"They told the workers if they continued to keep them hostage they were going to break the door open and leave," said Kathy. "And sure enough, in the middle of the wilderness a cab did show up." 

The Colwells chose not to abandon ship. They were left with minimal food, no cell service and no back-up plan.

"I just would've thought someone would've had a plan for something like this," said Steve.

The couple says some did make the most of the situation. A group of swing dancers from Edmonds-Woodway High School danced in the aisles, entertaining the frustrated, weary passengers.

Calls to Amtrak for comment late Monday were not immediately returned.

The Colwells said the entertainment was much appreciated, but their post-anniversary dinner left a lot to be desired. "Peanuts and water," they said with a laugh. "Happy anniversary, honey!"