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Passengers stuck on Amtrak train for about 20 hours finally on their way

FILE -Amtrak's California Zephyr rolls along the rails during its daily 2,438-mile trip to Emeryville/San Francisco from Chicago that takes roughly 52 hours on March 24, 2017 in Glenwood Springs, United States. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah   —  Some exhausted Amtrak passengers were stuck for about 19 hours over the weekend a few miles east of Provo when the train they were on suffered mechanical issues. 

California Zephyr Train 5 originated from Chicago on Friday night going to Emeryville, California. Amtrak says Train 5 had to stop near Provo just after 10:15 p.m. Saturday night due to debris on the tracks. 

“Amtrak train 5 was traveling from Chicago to Emeryville, Calif. just before 10 p.m. MT on Saturday, June 6, with 39 customers on board, when the engine was struck and damaged by a large boulder impeding the tracks in a remote location about 35 miles east of Provo, Utah,” according to a press release from Sunday night.

One of the passengers on that train, Daniel Cono, tells KSL that he heard train officials say they had hit a boulder on the tracks.  He believed from what they had told him, that the boulder had torn some hoses, sustaining damages underneath the engines. 

Sometime around 5 p.m. Sunday, another train had arrived to offload weary passengers as they prepared to be taken to Helper where the plan was to get them on buses to continue their destinations.

“An earlier attempt to attach a freight engine to resolve the issue so the train could continue on its way was unsuccessful, so the train is now terminated and customers are being transferred to train 6 to be taken to Helper Station (HER) where there will be alternate bus transportation available. We apologize for any inconvenience due to the extended delay and we will work directly with each customer to issue refunds after the trip,” according to that same release.

Cono was riding from Nevada to Salt Lake City when the train broke down.  The bad experience was compounded, Cono says, when the train lost power.  He says there were kids on the verge of fights and bathrooms smelled bad.

Before being transferred, Cono said train passengers were fed and crew members had been courteous.

“If we’re not out of here, in the middle of the night when it gets cold — ’cause we’ve got kids on here, we’ve got little kids — I’m going to start having a big old bonfire in front of this train to stay warm. Just so you know,” Cono quipped.

California Zephyr Train 6, which departed from Emeryville had been stuck behind the disabled train for a time, due to debris on the tracks.