December 13 2013 Latest news:
By Matthew Gooding
Thursday, October 31, 2013
An innovative Community Rail Partnership – the first of its kind in the South East – has been agreed to help three railway stations in Crow country survive and prosper.
The partnership, which covers Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton stations, has been agreed between train operator First Capital Connect (FCC) and the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group, as well as Network Rail, Cambridgeshire County Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council.
It is the first on the FCC network, and will see the organisations working together to ensure services and facilities for passengers are maintained and improved.
The partnership was formally signed at a ceremony at Meldreth railway station on Friday.
Cllr Susan van de Ven, who chairs the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group, said: “Our purpose is to protect and enhance local rail service, which constitutes a vital public transport network for our area.”
“The Thameslink franchise, which will take over next year, will be the biggest in the country and we don’t want our small stations to be forgotten. We expect the next train operator to support our campaign achievements, and help us with projects in the pipeline.
“We want to keep our free and reduced parking arrangements, our 50 per cent student discount and our booking office at Meldreth.”
Community Rail Partnerships are supported by the Department for Transport which says they are “a bridge between the railway and local communities.”
They are popular on many small lines in the north of England.
The agreement in South Cambridgeshire also has support from local parish councils, schools and businesses.
Cllr Van de Ven said, “We have a strong foundation of community work around our three stations. Station gardens are thriving due to volunteer work by residents, including the elderly and very young. Local garden centres keep us well supplied, and residents and businesses make donations to help cover any extras.
“We are now working hard to improve disabled access at Meldreth station.”