Three Amtrak trains headed to Chicago were halted Monday, stranding passengers for up to 14 hours overnight as the tracks were blocked with snow and ice buildup.
Two trains - one with 244 passengers coming from California and the other with 60 passengers headed from downstate Quincy - were halted about 3:15 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. respectively in Bureau County, about 75 miles southwest of Aurora, Amtrak spokesperson Marc Magliari said.
Amtrak began unloading passengers from the larger of those two trains onto charter buses, which would then take the people to Chicago, shortly before 3 a.m., Magliari said. The other train began unloading passengers onto charter buses about 5 a.m.
A third train, with 217 passengers coming from California, was stopped about 7 p.m. in Galesburg, about 50 miles south of Moline, Magliari said.
That train was still stranded as of 6 a.m., with Amtrak working to either find an alternate route or charter buses to unload the passengers, Magliari said. Charter buses were not available overnight.
In all three cases, Magliari said passengers were provided complimentary food and beverages.
Heat and toilet services were also working, he said. Emergency crews from nearby towns were on standby, but there has not yet been a need for an emergency medical response.
Even with more than 8,000 horsepower engines in each train, snow and ice buildup rendered the tracks “completely impassable,” Magliari said.