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Amtrak won't say whether people were justified in fleeing a severely delayed train last week

A blue and silver Amtrak locomotive with cars in tow chugs by near a road and a set of tall signals, with leafy trees and houses in the background
Rebecca Thiele
An Amtrak train in Comstock in 2015

The Friday trip from Pontiac to Chicago was supposed to take five and a half hours. Instead, mechanical, medical and other issues pushed the time to 19 hours.

An Amtrak spokesman offered few details this week on how the railroad would investigate what some people have dubbed the “train trip from hell,” while declining to say whether the conditions passengers faced went beyond reasonable travel inconvenience.

Some of the travelers went without water, electricity or working toilets for 14 hours of the journey, and some fled the train near Gary during one unscheduled stop. Several were quoted in media reports expressing outrage over the ordeal.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari turned down WMUK’s request to interview him about the incident. Pressed by email on whether passengers were justified in their outrage, Magliari said he “would not presume to speak for our customers or characterize their statements.”

As to whether and how Amtrak will investigate, Magliari responded, “we always review incidents and appreciate customer feedback.” Asked in a subsequent email how the railroad would make sure it doesn’t happen again, Magliari wrote that Amtrak was “looking at how we can improve our responded [sic] to this incident.”

Magliari added that the railroad had apologized to passengers and offered them refunds or credits according to their preference.