The North Notts and Lincs Community Rail Partnership

It was a special pleasure to enjoy a face-to-face meeting of the Sheffield Branch on a sunny afternoon in early (9th) February and to see again the familiar faces of some branch members who have not been able to take full advantage of the Zoom sessions that have dominated our programme over the past couple of years.  Our speaker was Barry Coward and his topic the "North Nottinghamshire & Lincolnshire Community Rail Partnership’.  Barry, who is the Chair of the CRP, has a lifetime of experience in the rail transport sector and so his talk was far broader in scope than the title might imply.  From as early as the 1970s a community group had been formed to support the Penistone Line between Sheffield and Huddersfield and from this and similar initiatives in other parts of the country have developed local organisations dedicated to bringing together parties with the shared aim of supporting local rail services.  While the origins of many was as pressure groups campaigning to keep branch lines open, todays CRPs are explicitly facilitating bodies including local authorities, train operators and community groups and each CRP has a specific catchment area: the NN&LCRP for example covers 2200 square miles of sparsely populated country that includes a dozen railway stations.  As Barry explained much of the CRPs work is directed to improving local rail services for passengers as well as in improving station facilities (where they work with station adopters and other friends groups).  Barry gave us many examples of train timetables that had been strengthened due to the efforts of the CRP and also described some initiatives that had been developed to promote tourism in the NN&L area: one to look out for will be a new statue of George Boole (of Boolean logic fame) to be sited outside Lincoln station (good to hear of a new statue being erected when others are being pulled down!).  As Barry pointed out, once people see improvements begin to take place a momentum builds up that encourages others to become involved and sustain the changes. Barry demonstrated wide knowledge of the field in the Q&A session afterwards and even took away some suggestions from the audience to be considered for service enhancements.  Other branches should consider inviting a representative of their local CRP to speak: as we did, they would most likely enjoy an interesting and engaging session.