Almost 200 people stranded since Sunday after train hits fallen tree in blizzard

Around 200 passengers were trapped on a train for two nights after it crashed into a tree that had fallen across the tracks in heavy snow.

Travellers on the Amtrak service had to stay put because a blizzard dumped 4ft of snow and made it impossible to get to them.

The Coast Starlight train 11, which is popular with tourists and was traveling from Seattle to Los Angeles, got stuck at 6pm on Sunday night when branches damaged its engine.

During the 36 hour nightmare, travellers rationed food, ran out of drinking water and made makeshift nappies out of washcloths and safety pins.

They passed the time by dancing in the aisles, making friends with strangers and sharing phones to call family as only one mobile network had a signal.

Operator Amtrak kept the passengers on the train because it still had power but the nearest town, Oakridge in Oregon, did not due to the snow.

Passengers said that after the snack cart ran out of food people in first class were fed from the restaurant, followed by those in business class and lastly those in coach.

They also complained that Amtrak was charging people for food, water and blankets but the company said in a tweet they would be free.

Carly Bigby, one of the passengers on board, said: "The worst of it has been the lack of communication from Amtrak."

She added: "The snack car is officially out and we have just had our last meal which was a light dinner with rice.

"A lot of the older kids have been really good but they’re having to run up and down and it’s a lot, especially the food – it’s not really food they’re liking. Moms are doing all they can right now."

Passenger Rebekah Dodson said: "We can’t get off the train because there’s four feet of snow in every direction, there’s nowhere to go."

She described the atmosphere as like a "giant kumbaya party" as one teenager got out a ukulele to serenade the children to sleep.

Some students had panicked because they feared their professors would not see the delay as a valid excuse for missing deadlines, according to reports.

The train, originally bound for Los Angeles, has since arrived in Eugene, Oregon, for servicing.

A Union Pacific locomotive towed the train back to Eugene after crews cleared the tracks overnight, according to a spokesman. 

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