Guest column: New rail service is a real step forward

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Starting from this weekend there will be a train every hour between Lincoln and Sheffield run by Northern Rail.

The new service starts on Sunday, December 10.

Historically, Sunday trains were always severely limited, usually to late afternoons and evenings, and certainly not on Sunday mornings when all good folks should have been in church.

The new service is a requirement of the franchise Northern Rail have with the Department of Transport.

Northern Rail is also required to introduce next year a semi-fast train service between Lincoln and Leeds via Gainsborough.

However, although Northern Rail’s franchise does not include any improvement to the Saturday-only service to Gainsborough Central.

Rail North, the body that oversees Northern Rail, is considering how they can permit an hourly train service between Sheffield and Gainsborough Central.

It is another small step toward Gainsborough Central receiving more passenger trains each day than at any time in its history.

With the new Sunday train service starting this weekend, a new Gainsborough Travel Guide has been kindly produced for us by Stagecoach. Copies will be distributed by our volunteers widely in the town.

It will also be on our Facebook or Twitter pages at @NNLCRP.

Soon new buses will be appearing on route 100 running between Scunthorpe, Gainsborough and Lincoln.

They have high backed e-leather seats, USB charging points and a smoother ride.

The new buses will be a cut above the Pacer trains that currently run to Lincoln.

However, for rail passengers the good news is that Pacers will be history in two years from now.

So, looking forward what can we expect from our railways?

Hourly trains from Gainsborough Lea Road station with faster journey times to Sheffield and the demise of the notorious Pacer trains.

We also expect platform two Lea Road to be replaced with a new platform by the first quarter of 2019.

If negotiations to secure regular train services at Gainsborough Central prove successful, it will open up a host of opportunities not only for the town centre but for the town in general.

Trains at Central station will make Gainsborough more attractive to inward investment.

I am sure it will also boost the economy of the town with more visitors arriving to shop in the area and discover what Gainsborough can offer visitors, from the Old Hall to the Old Nick.

Meanwhile the North Notts & Lincs Community Rail Partnership continues to seek funding to enable us to appoint an officer so that we can become more deeply involved with local communities.

We agree with Transport for Greater Manchester when they say that stations should be at the heart of the community like it is at Stalybridge.

Barry Coward is chairman of the North Notts & Lincs Community Rail Partnership