Richmond mother says Amtrak ride was nightmare

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A Richmond mother of two is fuming over what she describes as a nightmare Amtrak ride Sunday.

Kelly Martines says the train ride was plagued with delays that left her and her infant and toddler out in the cold with little idea of what was going on. To escalate the problems, Martines says an Amtrak employee cursed her out.

"Exhausted. Overwhelmed. A little bit traumatized from the overall experience," described Martines, of the ride from New York to Richmond.

Martines says Amtrak customer service wouldn't give her a refund though she says the trip took at least four extra hours. The trouble began when Amtrak employees told passengers that the train's wheels had caught fire. Passengers were let off at an emergency stop, on an outdoor platform in New Jersey. Martines says she and her family waited outside in 30 degree temperatures for an hour.

"No crew members, no one there to really explain what was going on. We were just left out in the cold," said Martines. She claims Amtrak workers did say another train would be coming along to pick them up, but didn't give riders specifics.

Martines says when a train finally pulled up, she and other passengers squeezed into an already packed train. However, Martines claims she and her kids were forced to ride in the vestibule, the area in between train cars, with no heat.

"You put us on the train in an area that had no heat and was, in my opinion, a dangerous place for my kids and I to be standing," continued Martines.

Martines says "no standing" signs were posted in the small area where she and her children waited. Ultimately, she moved her children into an aisle inside a train car. At one point, Martines says an employee snapped at her for not moving her stroller.

"He called me an [expletive], yelling that I refused to move my stroller, that I was being disruptive," recounted Martines.

NBC12 reached out to Amtrak about the train ride. Kimberly Woods, a spokesperson for Amtrak, says the staff did everything possible to minimize the inconvenience for their passengers on that train.

Woods wrote in a statement that "decisions on how best to accommodate our passengers in the event of a disruption are influenced by many factors and are made on a case-by-case basis."

"I wasn't upset about the mechanical issues. I know that happens. It was more of how we were treated," said Martines.

Amtrak representatives didn't specifically respond to questions about refunds or the family waiting in the train's vestibule area.

Other Amtrak riders at Richmond Staples Mill Road station said they've had routinely pleasant experiences aboard Amtrak.

"It's been really good… There have been minor technical difficulties, but (Amtrak employees) have always done their best to speed those along and make everyone comfortable," said regular rider Catherine Korizno.

Martines  says she won't be riding Amtrak again.

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