Freight train helps push passenger train to Rantoul

Freight train helps push passenger train to Rantoul

RANTOUL — An Amtrak train headed south from Chicago to Carbondale received help from a freight train to continue its journey to Rantoul on Tuesday.

According to passengers, the Illini passenger train left Chicago at 4:05 p.m.

Steve Kulm, a spokesman for Amtrak, said the train apparently lost power about 10 miles south of Gilman 6:02 p.m. due to locomotive failure. Kulm said 344 passengers were aboard.

A freight train hooked up to the rear of the passenger train and began pushing it out at 7:10 p.m. Kulm said that a CN freight train shoved the train to the next station in Rantoul.

Plans called for the passengers to get off the train at the Rantoul station at 8:07 p.m. while the locomotive was refueled.

"We will either fix it or provide alternative transportation for the passengers," Kulm said.

Kulm said that Amtrak personnel made available water and snack packs to the passengers during the delay.

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pjj wrote on July 06, 2011 at 1:07 am

Thanks to the person who owns the store that now occupies the old train station in Rantoul. They opened the store so passengers could go in and cool off. Also thanks to what I believe was the local law enforcement and emergency services for being present for assistance, if needed. While I was on the train there was NO offer of water let alone snacks by any Amtrak personnel - at least in my car. Amtrak, you missed your stop on this one. Many, many disgruntled passengers. A bit more empathy and a little kindness would have made this bearable. Thank you, Rantoul, for your kindness to the Amtrak passengers!

imru95 wrote on July 06, 2011 at 8:07 am

It's pretty sad to me that a train runs out of fuel on a trip from Chicago to Carbondale. A major screw up from Amtrak.

clarinetaholic wrote on July 06, 2011 at 2:07 pm

I was on that train! It was MISERABLE! I felt like I was going to faint or get ill multiple times throughout the two hour heat ordeal. Thank God my friend picked me up at Rantoul and drove me the rest of the way home so I wouldn't have to get back on that train!!

Everyone who was on that train with me should demand a full refund from Amtrak!

pjj wrote on July 07, 2011 at 3:07 pm

I tried to get a refund, as I got off in Rantoul before my scheduled stop also. I called and talked to many people at Amtrak. Because I got off at an "unmanned" station I was told I could not get a refund. I talked to ticketing and then was transferred to customer service. They just repeated their policy that they were unable to refund my ticket, since I boarded the train and they could not give me a credit toward another ticket because it was an "unmanned" station. I also explained to them how awful it was in the cars with the heat, odors, lack of facilities and lack of any hydration. I also stated my displeasure with the way I felt the train personnel treated the passengers with a total lack of concern. I felt each passenger should be given a free ticket not only for the discomfort but to show Amtrak does care about their passengers: but that didn't go far :-(.

I did finally get a useful Amtrak person who did listen, empathize and really try. I called 800-872-7245 and said "agent". When I got that person, I asked to speak to CUSTOMER RELATIONS. My rep did issue me a credit voucher that has to be mailed to me, but it was something.

I expressed concern that there is no emergency plan for cooling (or heat) in the case of a total power loss, as we experienced. Also, no emergency hydration or nourishment during a situation such as this in the heat of July. I was given the Amtrak Corporate office address. If you would like to write to them, as I plan to, it is listed here. Amtrak Corporate, 60 Massachusetts Avenue N E, Washington, D.C., 20002.