Giving local people a voice on the railway

March Railway Station launch of Hereward Rail Partnership
March Railway Station launch of Hereward Rail Partnership

MORE attractive stations, better information about rail services and greater integration with other forms of transport are among the improvements promised by the new Hereward Community Rail Partnership that was formally launched at March Station today (October 12).

The scheme offers local people more opportunities to get involved in the operation of the railway in Fenland.

The launch follows lengthy talks between a wide range of organisations and a detailed public consultation in the district last year.

Public transport is a key priority for Fenland, where about 20 per cent of householders do not own a car. Improvements in the rail service are seen as vital if the growth in the numbers of homes and jobs envisaged in Fenland District Council’s Core Strategy for the next 20 years are to be realised.

Speaking at the launch, Councillor Kit Owen, FDC’s portfolio holder responsible for infra-structuire, thanked all the organisations and volunteers that have already been involved in setting up the project.

They included Greater Anglia, Cambridgeshire County Council, the Street Pride and Station Adoption groups, Network Rail, Cross Country Trains, East Midlands Trains, Peterborough – Ely and Norwich Rail User Group, Care Network, Manea Parish Council, March Town Council and Whittlesey Town Council

Cllr Owen said: “There has been enormous success and a range of really good projects coming out of all the work that has been done to date, but the clear message from the 2011 consultation results was how could we do more and enable more people to be involved.

“The launch of the Hereward CRP today is our commitment to ensure that the local community are provided with the opportunities that they have asked us about and the projects that they want to see delivered.”

He said those projects included improved information about rail services, including information boards in town and village centres; new cycle parking and waiting shelters; and special offers and cheaper tickets.

He added: “We hope that this project will capture the imagination of the public and that it will encourage more people to be involved, as they have indicated they would like to be.”

Geraint Hughes, Greater Anglia’s partnerships manager, said: “Today’s launch is a very welcome development and demonstrates the commitment that the communities in Fenland have to their railway. Greater Anglia regards the work of Community Rail Partnerships as crucial to the future of many of its rural lines and we’re pleased to welcome the Hereward Partnership to the family of CRP’s operating across the region.”

Community Rail Partnerships are designed to give local people a voice and help them make rail companies more aware of local needs and priorities.

There are many successful examples of such partnerships across the country, including the Wherry Lines in Norfolk, the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership and the Abbey Line in Hertfordshire.

More details about how they operate can be found on the website of the Association of Community Rail Partnerships at www.acorp.uk.com

If you want to get involved, write to Hereward Community Rail Partnership, Neighbourhood Strategy Team, Fenland District Council, Fenland Hall, County Road, March, PE15 8NQ or e-mail neighbourhoodstrategy@fenland.gov.uk