More than a dozen East Bay High School students arrived in Tampa early Tuesday after train troubles delayed their return trip for hours.
Family members greeted 18 students and nine chaperones at the Amtrak station on Nebraska Avenue. The group arrived home from a school thespian society field trip to New York City.
"I'm ready for a real bed," 18-year-old Taliah Sotomayor told FOX 13.
Amtrak media representatives say the Silver Meteor 97 train headed from New York City to Miami left Sunday.
The train experienced engine troubles north of Florence, S.C., just after 4 a.m. Monday. Crews investigated before continuing the trip, but federal law required them to stop again. The spokesperson tells FOX 13 "The Federal Hours of Service" law kicked in and the conductor's hours expired.
As the company worked to find another conductor and switch out locomotives, the engineer's hours expired, too. All those mishaps delayed some 211 passengers on board for about 10 hours.
"Around 3 or 4 in the morning our teacher had woken up like she normally does every hour and was like, 'well, the train stopped,'" said Student KImberly Reyes. "By the time I woke up, they were like 'we have been here for 8 hours."
Amtrak representatives said the process of switching locomotives required crews to shut off power in passenger areas of the train. Sotomayor described her experience.
"The train ride was pretty terrible," she said. 'Since it broke down, all the bathrooms were really gross and everything."
Amtrak has apologized to all the passengers for the inconvenience. The company reportedly provided free snacks, beverages and lunch to those impacted by the delay.
"It was hot, but they treated us very well," said student Ashley Vargas. "It was not that bad."
Amtrak officials say the Miami-bound train arrived in the city Tuesday morning. The students got back to Tampa via bus.
East Bay High School assistant principal Scott Tipton joined parents waiting at the Amtrak station. He said school officials are accommodating students by giving them a business day off. Those who missed tests will be allowed to makeup those exams.
"We are thankful for them to be back home," Tipton said. "The teacher has talked to a top-ranked official about compensation for the tickets."
Some students fundraised for the trip, which included plays and Broadway performances.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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