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Amtrak train service stalled by rockslide, engine problems

Colfax museum, chamber open doors to travelers
By: Martha Garcia, Colfax Record Editor
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Two area couples sprung up an impromptu friendship Friday afternoon as they waited for over seven hours at the Colfax Passenger Depot for the Amtrak train to arrive. Rob Chipp, of Eden Valley, said he and his wife, Miriam, were headed to Reno to celebrate Mrs. Chipp’s Friday birthday. Mary and Jerry Lawrence, of Nevada City, also planned a three-day stay in Reno to celebrate Mrs. Lawrence’s birthday on Sunday. Their trips were delayed, however, and the travelers found themselves still waiting at 5:30 p.m. for the 12:21 Amtrak train to arrive. According to Liisa Lawson-Stark, local Director of Public Affairs for Union Pacific, the number one rail line was impacted when a locomotive had stalled between Newcastle and Auburn, followed by a rockslide in the same area. The situation was compounded by the ongoing track replacement project. “The TRT machine is working on our main line number two right now, so that line from Rocklin and Colfax is out of service,” Lawson-Stark said. Once the locomotive was back in service and UP crews cleared the rail line, the two freight trains in front of the Amtrak, and then the passenger train, were able to proceed. The eastbound Amtrak train reached Colfax at 8 p.m., according to Helen Wayland, Museum director. Westbound Amtrak passengers were also among the hundreds stranded by the delays. Since they didn’t have to worry about road conditions, the Chipps and the Lawrences waited patiently for the train. “I can’t wait to go through the snow storm,” said Miriam Chipp. Colfax Heritage Museum volunteers Donna Williams and Dick Wayland, as well as Colfax Chamber and Visitor Center volunteer Charlie Gray, showed their hospitality by keeping the building open beyond regular hours. Wayland also made a quick trip to McDonald's to pick up a quick meal for the potential passengers at the depot and the volunteers. Williams said that at one point there were as many as eight people waiting for the eastbound train. She said some decided to drive to Reno, while others cancelled their trip.