It makes journalist Andy Clutton’s working life a whole lot easier. And it has enabled wheelchair-user Fiona Stevenson to enjoy her first train trip for 33 years.
They are just two of the many Manea residents now benefiting from the vastly improved rail service from the village.
Nine months ago the Monday-Saturday service consisted of just two trains a day in each direction. Now there are trains every two hours, six days a week.
The two-hourly service was introduced last December. Since then the number of passengers using the station has more than tripled.
The improvement has been one of the major achievements of the Hereward Community Rail Partnership (HCRP), which worked very closely with Manea Parish Council and Abellio Greater Anglia to secure it.
Tomorrow (October 2) they will all be hoping to have their joint efforts recognised at the Association of Community Rail Partnerships’ annual awards ceremony in Scarborough. Together they have been shortlisted for the “Outstanding Teamwork Award”.
Andy Clutton says: “The only time I ever used the train from Manea was to go to Birmingham once a year. Now I use it a couple of times a month to get to London, Norwich, Cambridge, Leeds – all over the place. We also use it some weekends with the kids to go to Cambridge or Peterborough.
“It gives me far more options – I can leave home later and don’t have to worry about traffic or parking. It’s also so much better for families and increases the number of people coming to Manea, which is good for local businesses, too.”
Dianne Rowe, chair of the Manea Action Plan Implementation Group (MAPIG), agrees. The Action Plan included campaigning for an improved train service. When it was drawn up last year, the inadequacies in public transport were a major concern, with more than 400 people saying they would use the train if the timetable suited their needs.
Recently Dianne accompanied Manea born and bred Fiona Stevenson on a day out to Peterborough. It was the first time Mrs Stevenson had been on a train since she was paralysed in a road accident in 1981.
“It was a beautiful sunny day and we had a great time,” says Dianne.
“Fiona absolutely loved it – she was beaming from ear to ear all the way.”
The station itself has seen several improvements, including the introduction of two community noticeboards. About £10,000 in development funding has also been secured for a new waiting shelter and another £30,000 for a car park nearby – something that would further boost the numbers using the trains.
There are four “station adopters”, led by Pete Townrow, who look after the station with the help of the local Street Pride group.
• For the timetable for trains from Manea, visit www.fenland.gov.uk/article/7946/Manea-Railway-Station
Picture caption (to cover two pix):
Happy customers: Andy Clutton and Fiona Stevenson at Manea station