Several Via Rail trains have been delayed or cancelled as a winter storm continues to wreak havoc in Ontario.
In a statement emailed to Global News on Saturday, Via Rail said several of its trains in the Quebec City to Winsdor corridor had been immobilized “due to extreme weather conditions.”
This incuded train numbers 55, 59, 69, 669, 79, 48, 54, 68 and 668.
One passenger aboard train 55 from Ottawa to Toronto told Global News the train departed from Ottawa on Friday and remained stuck in Cobourg, Ont., on Saturday morning.
They said a tree had fallen onto the train.
Another passenger, Vee Grunda, told The Canadian Press that she and other passengers on board train 55 have been stuck in Cobourg, Ont., since 11 p.m. last night without food, water or communication from staff onboard.
Grunda said some passengers were jumping off the train into the snow, and police and paramedic services are onboard as they wait for an emergency train to arrive with food.
Another passenger, Kate Ragonetti told Global News the trip was supposed to only take five hours.
She said, though, that passengers were told frozen signals and a fallen tree were causing hours of delays.
She said the train stopped in Cobourg at 8 a.m., and had remained there since.
Katherine Goodrow – who was travelling with Ragonetti – said there have been some “tough moments,” but said she thinks the situation is “funny at the end of the day.”
“One day we will look back and this will be the funniest joke ever,” Goodrow said.
Ragonetti said she is thankful that she and Goodrow are travelling together.
In the statement, Via Rail said some of its trains had been cancelled Saturday morning including 60, 50, 41, 61, 62, 52 and 40.
“From power outages to trees on the tracks and even a tree falling on a locomotive, conditions make it impossible to move some of our trains,” Via Rail said in the statement. “Our first priority is the safety of our passengers and, although stopped, our trains are able to keep passengers warm and safe while on board.”
Via Rail apologized, saying it is “in communication with the infrastructure owner,” adding that they are “aware” of the company’s immobilized trains.
Via Rail said it has been focussed on “keeping our customers as comfortable as possible in the current circumstances and on bringing them to their final destinations as quickly and as safely as possible while making every effort to find alternative solutions to reach the trains that are immobilized.”
The company said passengers who are travelling on the affected trains will be “provided a full refund.”
“Passengers should expect significant delays in the Corridor today (December 24) and we invite our passengers to consult our website before going to stations,” the statement said.
Blizzard and winter storm warnings remained in place for a number of areas across Ontario on Saturday.
In a tweet Saturday, Canada’s transportation minister Omar Alghabra, called the situation “unacceptable.”
He said the ministry is “in contact” with Via Rail to “resolve all issues safely and efficiently.”
“The unprecedented weather has caused delays in our transportation system and the safety of passengers and crew is our top priority,” he wrote.
— With files from The Canadian Press and Ahmar Khan