Hitchin pensioner stranded for 40 minutes on freezing Arlesey railway platform

Devi Jankowicz was left to brave the sub-zero weather due to lack of shelter at Arlesey train statio

Devi Jankowicz was left to brave the sub-zero weather due to lack of shelter at Arlesey train station. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Archant

A 71-year-old man from Hitchin has complained about a lack of facilities at Arlesey railway station after train problems left him and other passengers shivering through delays in sub-zero conditions.

Retired professor Devi Jankowicz, who was using a walking stick, was returning from an appointment yesterday to treat his ankle – which was operated on last winter and frequently causes him pain.

When he heard that the 1.25pm train had been cancelled, he headed to the booking office area for shelter – only to find it locked.

Prof Jankowicz said: “The snow got really quite heavy at some points. I was wearing a thick ski jacket, but the cold was just whipping through it.

“What was most annoying was the great chasm of difference between the PR tone of the recorded platform announcements that kept telling us to take care in the cold, compared with the horrible situation we were in. Both the nearby pubs were closed, so sadly I couldn’t shelter in there either!”

According to National Rail Enquiries, Arlesey station does not make staff help available between 10.30am and 4pm.

As the station has no waiting room, the booking office is the only shelter available.

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The Met Office issued a yellow weather warning for snow in Arlesey yesterday, and today an additional two yellow warnings are in place for wind and snow. Temperatures yesterday reached -6°C, with the wind causing it to feel like -14°C at times.

Passengers’ half-hour wait for the next train at 1.56pm was then extended by a delay of another eight minutes.

Prof Jankowicz feels that stations need to provide some sort of shelter in case of weather conditions like this.

He said: “Staff were still on hand to see off trains, but did not open the booking office area.”

A Great Northern spokesman said: “We are very sorry to passengers who have experienced discomfort during poor weather owing to the lack of shelter at Arlesey when the ticket office area is closed.

“There is a shelter on the northbound platform. However, the southbound platform is historically too narrow to build an effective shelter without extending the platform width, which would mean securing funds for a major improvement project.

“We regret that we don’t expect this to be a priority in the next few years.”

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