Mum and son among passengers forced to spend 'traumatic' night stranded on freezing train at Royston

Lorentinah Kaseke, from Cambridge, and her 10-year-old son, Joel Kaseke,
Lorentinah Kaseke, from Cambridge, and her 10-year-old son, Joel Kaseke got stranded on a train overnight Credit: Cambridge Live/BPM MEDIA

About 20 passengers forced to spend the night stranded on a "freezing" train as they tried to make their way home from London.

Among them were Lorentinah Kaseke and her son, Joel, 10, who were making their way back from the capital on Sunday night after a day out to celebrate his birthday.

They made it to Royston, aiming to catch the 9.49pm train to Cambridge but were told that was no longer running.

Instead they boarded the 10.09pm Great Northern train, but a power failure and extreme weather meant it could not leave the station.

With heavy snow falling, and no taxis or buses available, there was no choice but to spend the night on the train.

Ms Kaseke, who works as a triage nurse, said: "It was a traumatic experience. When the train came, it couldn't move from the station. We had nowhere to go."

She added: “I was hysterical, I was even getting frustrated because my son was crying and as much as I was comforting him it's very traumatising knowing that you're stuck and you've got nowhere to go. You don't even know whether the train is gonna move because of the weather."Nobody could get to us. It was very, very traumatising.”

This meant Ms Kaseke and her son had no choice but to stay on the train from around 10.50pm until around 5.30am the next morning.

She said there were around 20 other passengers in the same situation.

Lorentinah Kaseke, from Cambridge, and her son, Joel had been out in London to celebrate his birthday Credit: Cambridge Live/BPM MEDIA

Great Northern said it had tried to arrange taxis for the passengers who had no other way to get home but due to the snow and ice that had already arrived local companies in Royston were not sending cars out.

A replacement bus service could also not be arranged, the company said.

“We had no choice but to sit in the cold train,” said Ms Kaseke.

She said the train was “freezing cold, really, really cold” adding that her son "was actually shivering" and became tearful.

During the night staff provided hi-vis jackets to keep the 10-year-old warm as he tried to sleep on the seats.

They also gave out bottled water and warm drinks, as well as handing out extra layers for the passengers.Great Northern also confirmed that the heating was kept on throughout the night and passengers had access to the toilets.

After almost seven hours on the train it was finally able to get moving at around 5.30am and arrived in a snowy Cambridge half an hour later.

The mother and son finally made it back to their house at about 7am, 10 hours after they had left London.

Joel was given hi-vis coats by Northern Rail staff to keep him warm Credit: Cambridge Live/BPM MEDIA

Jenny Saunders, customer services director for Thameslink and Great Northern, said the company was very sorry about what had happened.

“Keeping passengers on the train is a last 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 ground to assist passengers and hand out water and hot drinks.”

Helen Cavanagh, head of passenger experience for Network Rail’s East Coast route, said: “We’re incredibly sorry. A number of complex incidents, including an issue with the train-powering overhead line equipment near Royston and over-running engineering work near Letchworth, caused some significant disruption to trains in the area.

"We worked with Great Northern to help passengers find other ways home, but unfortunately the snow and ice meant that this wasn’t possible for everyone."

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