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Amtrak passengers stranded in snow are rescued

Some of the Amtrak passengers who spent the night in snowbound trains heading for Chicago arrived at Union Station by bus this morning.

About 500 passengers were aboard Amtrak’s Southwest Chief from Los Angeles, the Illinois Zephyr from Quincy, and the California Zephyr from the San Francisco Bay area.

Passengers from the Southwest Chief and Illinois Zephyr arrived at Union Station this morning.  The 217 who were traveling on the California Zephyr are now aboard buses and are expected to arrive in Chicago early this afternoon.

The trains were all heading for Chicago Monday, but got stuck in snowdrifts up to twelve feet high.

Passengers on the trains say the crew tried to make it through the snow and ice but couldn’t manage, so they were forced to spend more than nine hours on the train near Mendota.   Amtrak employees offered them food and drinks until passengers on two of the trains were put on buses at 5am Tuesday.  Amtrak officials say the safest place for the passengers was on board the trains as temperatures dipped well below zero.

Amtrak hired charter buses to take the passengers from the stranded trains to Union Station in Chicago.   Passengers say the heat and electricity was kept on inside the trains and they were never in danger.

Amtrak has suspended service to the area until the tracks can be cleared.

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