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‘Traumatic’ train journey sees mum and son trapped overnight | Travel News | Travel

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Lorentinah Kaseke and her 10-year-old son Joel needed to spend the night on a Great Northern train (Image: Keith Jones)

A mother has told of how she and her son were forced to spend the night on a “freezing cold” train after bad weather and power failures left them stranded on the station.

Lorentinah Kaseke said it was a “traumatising experience” as she and her son needed to spend the night on the train with “nowhere to go” – or every other method to get home.

Lorentinah and Joel Kaseke had been visiting London for the day on Sunday, December 11, to have fun Joel’s birthday. They met their family in London to enjoy go-karting before making their way back to Cambridge later that day, CambridgeshireLive reports.

On the way in which home, they travelled from London Kings Cross to Hitchin and from Hitchin train station got a substitute bus service to Royston train station. Here they were planning to get the 9.49pm train to Cambridge but were told it was now not running.

As a substitute, they were advised to go to a unique platform and board the ten.09 Great Northern train to Cambridge. Nevertheless, after boarding the train and waiting they were later told this train would now not be operating as a consequence of a mixture of power failure and extreme weather conditions.

Lorentinah explained: “When the train got here, it couldn’t move from the station”.

Great Northern hi-vis jackets were used to cover 10-year-old Joel to try and keep him warm

Great Northern hi-vis jackets were used to cover 10-year-old Joel to try to keep him warm (Image: Lorentinah Kaseke)

Unsure of how she was going to get home Lorentinah asked the staff in the event that they could arrange a taxi or bus to Cambridge but unfortunately, neither of those were in a position to run, nor were every other trains. She added that she didn’t know anyone in Royston that might help either and said: “We had nowhere to go”.

Explaining how she felt the mum said: “I used to be hysterical, I used to be even getting frustrated because my son was crying and as much as I used to be comforting him it’s totally traumatising knowing that you just’re stuck and you have got nowhere to go and you do not even know whether the train is gonna move due to weather.

“I didn’t even know if we were even gonna go anywhere in any respect due to condition of the road. There have been no taxis as well, there have been no buses. No person could get to us. It was very very traumatising.”

Great Northern said they tried to rearrange taxis for the passengers who had no way else to get home but as a consequence of the snow and ice that had already arrived local corporations in Royston weren’t sending cars out. A substitute bus service was also unable to be arranged.

Lorentinah said: “They did all one of the best they might to get the taxis down but then the weather was deteriorating and no person wanted to come back right down to Royston”.

This meant Lorentinah and her 10-year-old son had no selection but to remain on the standstill train from around 10.50pm until around 5.30am the following morning. In total there have been around 20 other passengers in the identical situation having to spend the night on the train unaware of when it might give you the chance to go away.

“We had no selection but to sit down within the cold train” the mum said. She also explains that the train was “freezing cold, really, really cold” and said: “my son was actually shivering, he cried until he couldn’t cry anymore”.

Throughout the night Lorentinah asked the staff for some assistance to assist keep her son warm. With limited resources, the staff were in a position to provide the 10-year-old with a choice of hi-vis jackets to make use of as a blanket to try to keep him warm, the mum said she used quite a few jackets to cover him as he lay on the seat of the train. Joel then slept “on and off and was crying because he was so frustrated” his mum explained. She said “seeing him like that, it just really broke my heart, I’ve never been so stuck in my whole life, it was so frightening.

“We didn’t even understand how long we’d stay there for, due to snow, we didn’t know if it was going to worsen”.

Throughout the night Great Northern staff were on the bottom to help passengers as much as they might. They provided bottled water and warm drinks to passengers, in addition to handing out additional layers resembling hats and other hi-vis jackets.

The mum and son took a selfie when they finally arrived in Cambridge

The mum and son took a selfie after they finally arrived in Cambridge (Image: Lorentinah Kaseke)

Great Northern confirmed that the heating was kept on throughout the night and passengers had access to the toilets.

After almost seven hours on a standstill train and a journey that sometimes takes around 20 minutes, at around 5.30am the train from Royston to Cambridge was finally in a position to run again. On arrival at Cambridge train station at around 6am Lorentinah said there have been other people facing difficulties with travel as a consequence of the weather, she said “it was really bad, there was a lot chaos”.

Lorentinah then tried to call an area taxi to get them home but none were available, so as an alternative needed to order an Uber. She said “I needed to order an Uber however it cost me a lot money and I didn’t have those funds handy so I needed to borrow money from my friend because I couldn’t wait again within the cold. It was awful. I just really desired to go home. I had been cold for a really very long time”.

The mother and son finally made it to their home in Cambridge near Arbury at around 7am on Monday, December 12, almost 10 hours later. She said “It was very traumatising” and “I’m scared to make the journey and get stuck within the train again”.

Lorentinah works in Hitchin as a triage nurse but said after the “traumatic” ordeal couldn’t face making the journey back again on the identical day, especially after so little sleep. She said: “There was no way I could have gone to work after having slept a complete night on a train”.

Jenny Saunders, Customer Services Director for Thameslink and Great Northern said: “We’re very sorry that as a consequence of a mixture of power failure and extreme weather conditions within the Royston area [on December 11] a few of our passengers couldn’t get home. We tried our greatest to rearrange taxis, but unfortunately the snow and ice meant local corporations weren’t sending cars out.

“Keeping passengers on the train is a final resort, but with no other options available, this was the safest thing to do. We kept the heating switched on the train all night and had staff on the bottom to help passengers and hand out water and hot drinks.”

Great Northern also shared that the on-call Team Leader made his way by automotive as soon as he heard in regards to the issues, noting that there have been abandoned cars on surrounding roads as a consequence of the weather. The Team Leader also stayed with passengers until 8am on Monday, December 12 in order that he was with all of them night.

Helen Cavanagh, Head of Passenger Experience for Network Rail’s East Coast route said: “We’re incredibly sorry for the experience that Lorentinah, her son and other passengers had whilst travelling home on Sunday night.

“A lot of complex incidents, including a difficulty with the train-powering overhead line equipment near Royston and overrunning engineering work near Letchworth, caused some significant disruption to trains in the realm. We worked with Great Northern to assist passengers find other ways home, but unfortunately the snow and ice meant that this wasn’t possible for everybody. We’ll be reflecting on all the choices made during these incidents to make sure that our operational response is pretty much as good as it will possibly be in the long run.”

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