I was one of those stuck on a non-moving Silver for 24+ hours, several years ago. After finally getting the tracks clear the next day, we started moving, only stopping again a short time later because the crew timed out. We stopped in the middle of a swamp.
Sorry, IMHO, Amtrak needs to send a relief crew or have them staged at stations, ready and able, when extremely long delays happen to any LD train. No one could ever convince me that if Amtrak, for example, offered a $1M bonus to any qualified employee who could get to, say, the Atlanta station in 24 hours, that there would be no takers.
Stopping in the middle of a swamp is simply beyond gross incompetence. If the crew will time out before reaching the next station, then don't even try. Duh! Hold at the last station they can reach. At least the stranded passengers could make use of the station while waiting. What is Amtrak afraid of? After 24+ hours, the stranded passengers will take a taxis to the airport?
I don't know where Walnut Ridge is but there are things that are left out as you two focus on a single train. What are the physical characteristics of the areas you intend to leave a train for multiple hours? What does the host have in mind since they ultimately will make the call as it is their territory.Yeah, we stopped JUST SOUTH OF Walnut Ridge. Like, couldn't they foresee the timing-out and just have sat at the station? Also maybe easier to get the relief crew there, better roads or something. (And for that matter - if the crew is approaching time out, just load the relief crew from the station they WOULD have got on at and start driving them towards the train! Chances are it won't pass the van with the crew in it).
Will leaving a train at a station (assuming it is staffed) result in fouling a grade crossing circuit? Is said station on a single track, which would not only delay your train, but cause other trains around it to time out as well as congestion results? Where is the relief coming from? Is it coming from the direction you're heading? Some stations are hours apart so is it better to make a run towards your relief as opposed to sitting in the same station as the clock ticks against the relief crew? How many crews are even available?
In the case "just load the relief crew from the station they WOULD have got on and start driving them towards the train," that is common but assumes there is someone or something to drive them to where they're going to. Quite often, the delay is finding a way to even deadhead them to the equipment. Not every crew change location has personnel on the scene. Not every location has transportation on the scene. You have to find a service to taxi the crew to the location..if that is even feasible. There are time when they've used freight trains and even airplanes to ferry relief crews to equipment.
However, this also takes time. Typically, the personnel that will ferry relief crews are also under hours of service laws.
Each scenario is different. There are plenty of times when I can see holding in station if you're not going to make it. I can see (and have seen) plenty of times when it was not really feasible, ill-advised or not even allowed.