UPDATE, 6:36 PM, February 25, 2019
Statement from Union Pacific:
“The Amtrak train in Oakridge, Oregon, is inoperable due to weather conditions and downed trees. UP crews are in the process of clearing the track and are expected to reach the train by 6 a.m. PT. The train will then move back to Eugene then Portland. Amtrak has made the decision to keep the passengers on the train because power is out in the city. Also, with only two small hotels in town they don’t want to separate the passengers prior to having them reboard for departure.”
Tim McMahan, Corporate Relations, Union Pacific.
UPDATE, 5:00 PM, February 25, 2019
“My Mom is on that train!,” says Courtney Dillinger. “I don’t know if her phone is dead or if they are just in a no service area, but I have not been able to get ahold of her since about 6 pm last night. I have no clue what is happening of if anyone was injured when the train hit the tree.”
The Amtrak Coast Starlight, loaded with 183 passengers, was due into Klamath Falls late Sunday night after crossing over the Cascade Mountain Range earlier in the evening. Unfortunately, a major storm was also forecast to hit the Cascades at the same time. The storm had a head start.
About 6:18 PM the train struck a tree that had fallen onto the tracks near Oakridge.
“Conditions further deteriorated with numerous track blockages from snow and fallen trees,” said Olivia Irvin, Public Relations Manager for Amtrak. “Due to worsening conditions, area road closures and no viable way to safely transport passengers or crews via alternate transportation, Amtrak Coast Starlight train 11 was terminated at Oakridge, with no alternative transportation provided.”
“We have been stuck on the Amtrak for over 24-hours, says Courtney Tabion, a student at Oregon Tech. “We need help getting back to campus!”
Tabion also stated she is with fellow Oregon Tech student, Aerin Song.
“Amtrak is actively working with Union Pacific to clear the right of way and get passengers off the train,” says Irvin. “We have enough food for passengers and the bathrooms are in good working condition. Passengers are [currently] unable to get off the train due to the unsafe weather conditions.”
Irvin continues, “No injuries have been reported onboard. While the train hit the tree, the train is stationary due to the number of trees that have fallen on the tracks. The train has not derailed due to hitting the tree.”
It has been rumored that an avalanche has struck the Union Pacific tracks ahead of the train. However, this rumor has not been confirmed by officials at Union Pacific. However, Irvin states that only trees and powerlines are blocking the route.
Earlier today, an avalanche has shut down the Santiam Pass between Bend and Salem.
A request for statement and update regarding the track, and condition of the right of way has been sent to Union Pacific. Those questions and inquiries have not been answered at this time.
A High Wind Warning, Winter Storm Warning and Winter Weather Advisory all continue for the Cascades through 10:00 PM PST tonight (2/25/19). Oregon Highway 58 that runs adjacent to the UP tracks has also been closed today due to downed trees, downed powerlines and heavy snow.
Klamath Falls News will continue to monitor this developing story and provide updates as they become available.
In a statement from Amtrak:
"On February 24, Amtrak Coast Starlight train 11 struck a tree that had fallen onto the tracks. Conditions further deteriorated with numerous track blockages from snow and fallen trees. Due to worsening conditions, area road closures and no viable way to safely transport passengers or crews via alternate transportation, Amtrak Coast Starlight train 11 was terminated at Oakridge, with no alternative transportation provided to Los Angeles."
This is a developing story and Klamath Falls News is working with Amtrak on obtaining more information.