Passengers were stuck hours on Via Rail train between Toronto and Windsor

·3 min read
A Via rail employee walks through a train while it sat for hours with passengers on board and no power just outside Ingersoll, Ont.  (Submitted by Johanna Thompson - image credit)
A Via rail employee walks through a train while it sat for hours with passengers on board and no power just outside Ingersoll, Ont. (Submitted by Johanna Thompson - image credit)

A Via Rail train carrying hundreds of passengers on the Toronto-Windsor corridor was halted for hours on Tuesday night, leaving them stranded after it lost power, according to those onboard.

Passengers said the train was stopped near Ingersoll around 10:30 p.m. ET for five hours before many were moved onto a bus that took them to London.

But people travelling beyond London had to wait hours longer until another train arrived to get to stations in Chatham-Kent and Windsor.

In an email to CBC News on Thursday morning, Via Rail said that due to a mechanical issue, the train was delayed for "safety reasons" near Ingersoll.

It said while some passengers were offered alternative transportation to London, others stayed on the train as the company wasn't "able to secure transportation all the way up to Windsor."

As a result, some travellers had to wait for another train, which arrived in Windsor eight hours and 34 minutes late.

"Unfortunately, freight traffic and infrastructure issues generated additional delays before another Via Rail train could reach [the train] to bring it and its passengers to destination," the company said, adding all passengers were offered food and drinks, as well as a full refund and credit.

No working toilets

Rana Al-Khulaidi expected to arrive in Windsor at 11:45 p.m. from Toronto, but said she didn't get to her destination until 8:30 a.m. the next day.

"I'm telling you, there's a lot of us. They're getting anxiety, screaming, yelling and they're getting tired of it," she said about the delay.

Submitted by Johanna Thompson
Submitted by Johanna Thompson

She said passengers sat on the train without power for hours.

"No power, no toilet to use. And then there is no AC. I got anxiety," said Al-Khulaidi, who usually drives her car, but took the train to relax.

"I wish I didn't do it."

London-bound travellers get buses, more delays for others

Johanna Thompson was on the train travelling back to her home just outside Chatham, a trip that usually takes about three hours, she said.

This one took 12 hours.

"As the night wore on, people realized they were going to be late for jobs, school," said Thompson, who believed the train was nearly full of travellers.

"There was a lot of uncertainty."

Thompson said electricity stopped at one point during the delay, and that the bathrooms were "gross and smelly" shortly after the train stopped.

Buses that arrived five hours into the delay were only used for passengers travelling to London, she said.

"Around then, they said that a train is coming to get you from Oakville in two hours and I thought, how at five hours in are they just sending someone for the rest of us now."

Al-Khulaidi said staff told the Windsor-bound passengers "you have to wait because you guys [are] too far."

"We are looking at them and we told them can we get another bus, take us to Windsor," she said.

"I don't understand it."

Staff praised, company slammed

Thompson said staff on the train were excellent to work with.

"The people working on the train were doing absolutely the best they could and were amazing," said Thompson.

She said she's hesitant to take the train again.

"I know it's such a random incident but I don't feel confident in their ability to react quickly and decisively in those situations."

Al-Khulaidi said she was offered a free ticket from Via Rail for the disrupted travel.

"Who's going to use the Via Rail ticket when you have this experience?".