Guest column: Community rail group has had a good first year

East Midland Trains is one of four train company members of NNLCRP
East Midland Trains is one of four train company members of NNLCRP

A year ago, the newly-formed North Notts and Lincs Community Rail Partnership (CRP), covering 11 stations in Lincolnshire, north Lincolnshire and Bassetlaw.

Our first event was to attend the annual Department for Transport and ACoRP(CRP’s trade body) held in Lincoln.

Here we made contact with established CRPs that were to become invaluable mentors to us.

Our CRP is a partnership consisting of councils, train operators, bus company and our four area groups of volunteers.

We took over some of the functions of GRaB, a local rail and bus users group formed in 2012.

This includes the publication of the Gainsborough Travel Guide and subsequently a similar guide for Kirton-in-Lindsey and Scotter.

Putting bus and train times in one leaflet has proved popular.

The Gainsborough Travel Guide can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/2kjXBAq.

As an organisation with almost no funds we rely upon the support of our bus company partner, Stagecoach East Midlands, to produce these guides for us.

We pressed Network Rail and train operator members for improvements at Lea Road station, where work on building a new platform two starts in the autumn, Retford low level, where improvements to the waiting shelters, including glass fronts and air conditioning, is now well advanced and Worksop where the listed station will be fully renovated.

Our council members, Lincolnshire County Council and Bassetlaw and West Lindsey Councils, have been negotiating with Arriva Rail North for the restoration of a regular train service at Gainsborough Central and we expect an announcement to be made soon.

Not bad for our first year, but as a volunteer organisation there are limits to the achievements we can make.

We are still trying to raise funds to employ a part-time community rail officer on an 18-month contract.

The officer’s first task will be to secure sustainable funding, then work with all partners to produce a longer-term creative marketing and action plan.

We want someone with abilities in fundraising and working with communities and partners on a wide variety of projects which will also require an ability to see issues from the perspective of local people.

We do not yet have all the money needed but hopefully it will not be too long before a job advert will appear in the Gainsborough Standard.