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New Amtrak Policy Temporarily Strands Kids In Harrisburg

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Harold Hayes Harold Hayes
Harold Hayes joined KDKA-TV in August of 1979 as a general assignment...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Two children were stuck in Harrisburg after an apparent mistake by Amtrak.

The 10 and 16-year-olds took the train there, but were not allowed to return.

Amtrak officials told their father that they should never have been allowed to get on the train without an adult.

As it turns out, for the return trip they weren’t.

For a brief time, they were stuck in Harrisburg.

When Brian Hall sent his two daughters to Harrisburg to see relatives, he filled out an unaccompanied minors notification form.

The form says that the one daughter was 10, but when it was time to return from Harrisburg, Amtrak would not let her board the train.

The girls have taken the train to Harrisburg together before. The 16-year-old, under Amtrak’s policy, could ride without an adult.

But, 10-year-old, Zuri, cannot.

That policy changed on Nov. 1. Before that, children as young as eight could ride without an adult with proper documentation.

When the two were allowed to board in Pittsburgh, no one raised a red flag. The arrival in Harrisburg posed no problems either.

However, when they tried to return from Harrisburg on Sunday, there was a problem. An agent caught what should have been caught much earlier.

“They basically stated that they are not able to send her back on the train with her sister and they canceled the ticket and they refunded me the money and now I have to find my own way to get them back home,” Hall said.

He said the railroad acknowledged the mistake was made in Pittsburgh, but caught it in Harrisburg.

“But they did not inform me of this when I purchased the ticket,” Hall said.

Earlier today, an Amtrak spokesman told KDKA-TV’s Harold Hayes they would not repeat the first error on the return trip and that two wrongs don’t make a right.

However, late this afternoon the spokesman called back to say in this case the girls can return to Pittsburgh by train.

Amtrak is hoping to avoid a negative story and hopes to reinforce with the public that their policy now is that kids under 12 must be accompanied.

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