Guest column: Good rail links are vital to the economy

Gainsborough Central Station
Gainsborough Central Station

The North Notts and Lincs Community Rail Partnership responded to the recent Department for Transport (DfT) consultation for the new East Midlands rail franchise by supporting the East Midlands councils.

They wrote: “For Lincoln and surrounding areas significantly better connectivity is needed and a standard hourly timetable introduced.

“An hourly service between Lincoln and Doncaster focused on enhancing connections at Doncaster to/from Leeds, York and other northern cities is important for economic growth.”

However, we also asked that the Nottingham to Worksop service be extended to Cleethorpes every two hours giving Brigg, Kirton-in-Lindsey, Gainsborough and Retford direct trains to Mansfield and Nottingham.

We also asked that trains run hourly from Peterborough via Spalding, Seaford, Lincoln, Gainsborough and Doncaster to Thorne, Crowle and Scunthorpe, taking over the existing Northern Rail service from Doncaster.

Every two hours these trains would be extended to Cleethorpes.

A connecting shuttle at Barnetby would allow travel to and from Barton on Humber.

Our response to the DfT East Midlands Franchise Consultation can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/2xCLd7R

In April the DfT is expected to issue an invitation to tender to the three companies selected as bidders for the franchise.

These are Stagecoach, the present operator, Arriva and First, all bus companies.

We will be pressing our case to all three bidders.

Meanwhile, our suggestion that the new Sheffield to Retford stopping train service should start at Gainsborough Central remains a matter of negotiation between Northern Rail and local councils.

The annual Lincoln Christmas market runs from Thursday December 7 to Sunday , December 10.

Last year, intending passengers at Gainsborough Lea Road were left behind as trains from Sheffield arrived already full.

Hopefully, this year Northern Rail will put on longer trains (last year some were doubled, some were not).

As an alternative to overcrowded trains passengers may like to use the Stagecoach bus service 100 between Gainsborough and Lincoln.

It runs hourly for much of the day and will be less crowed than trains.

On the Sunday of the market, Northern Rail will start running an hourly Sunday service between Lincoln and Sheffield.

The first train from Lea Road to Lincoln will be at 10.36am and the last will leave Lincoln for Lea Road at 21.08pm

The new Sunday timetable can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/2zW9KCq

This weekend, why not visit the Chesterfield Canal at Shireoaks?

The canal follows the railway between Kiveton Park and Shireoaks stations and it is well worth walking or even cycling along the towpath.