Trip From Hell: Passengers Stranded on Train for Nearly 10 Hours

PHOTO: Train passengers disembark train after hours stranded on tracks outside Perryville, Md.PlayCourtesy of Stephanie Benanty
WATCH Arctic Blast Chills 30 States

The passengers on Amtrak Train 188 -- all 408 of them -- endured a travel nightmare after their train was stranded for nearly 10 hours on Thursday night, at times without light or heat.

Train 188 left Washington, D.C. around 7:10 p.m. heading north to Philadelphia, but an unexpected electrical outage halted the train outside Perryville, Md. around 9:00 p.m.

According to Amtrak spokesman Steve Kulm, a Delmarva Power line fell onto the Amtrak power lines about 10 miles south of Wilmington, Del., ultimately shorting out the signal system but not the power line, which supplies the trains with electricity and heat.

Eight trains along the Northeast corridor were affected by the power shortage, amounting to 1,700 passengers stuck on trains for hours. Seven of the trains were held at stations. Train 188 was the lone exception.

WJLA reporter Steven Tschida was a passenger on Train 188, tweeting his experiences throughout the night, at one point calling it "the trip from HELL."

"En route phili. Train broke down. Terrible, cold, no info," Tschida tweeted via @ABC7Stephen. "Better get what can from cafe. Looks like long night ahead.

Stephanie Benanty, a 21-year-old passenger, said she was frustrated with the lack of information Amtrak officials had about the delay.

"It was very almost impossible to find a conductor, and when we were trying to get in touch with them, they were walking by with their hands up saying, 'We know nothing,'' Benanty, a senior psychology major at George Washington University, told ABC News in a Skype interview. "It was clear they didn't know what was going on."

"Why will no one tell us anything? People are cold, hungry, and frightened. I hear yelling in other cars," Tschida tweeted.

Lights out, Passengers demand to be released

Early Friday morning, the lights on Train 188 went out and passengers began to panic.

"There's no lights on the train, and at that point, that's when I said, 'Forget it. I'm safer with strangers than being on this train,'" Benanty said.

The 11-Hour Train Ride from Hell

A group of passengers began to discuss plans about stepping off the train after they discovered on their GPS systems that a station was only a five-minute walk away. They said they spoke to conductors and were told they might be arrested if they walked along the tracks on their own.

Eventually, Amtrak police agreed to escort about a dozen passengers, including a mother with two small children, off the train. They walked 5 minutes to the closed Perryville station and waited about 30 minutes for taxis to take them to their final destinations.

Benanty took a taxi cab to Trenton, N.J. with 3 other passengers where she was met by her father, who drove her home to New York. She arrived in Brooklyn, N.Y. at 5:30 a.m., seven hours after her train was supposed to arrive at New York Penn Station.

Passengers remaining on the train reported little heat or light.

"Oh god, lights went out. Train totally dead," Tschida said on Twitter.

"For the vast majority of the time, the light and heat were on in Train 188," Kulm said.

Train 188 eventually inched its way towards Philadelphia and arrived around 4:30 a.m.

Train passenger Rita Hudetz told ABC News via Twitter that conductors told passengers they would receive a refund because of the delay, but today Amtrak refused and instead offered her a voucher.

"We understand the frustration of our passengers went through, particularly on Train 188, and all the trains impacted. We apologize," Kulm said.

But for some, the apology might not be enough.

"In this day and age, again, being in transportation like that and not being told why we're stuck, is very, very concerning," Benanty said. "Amtrak lost me as a customer."