Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership celebrates success

PUBLISHED: 07:30 30 May 2019

Back row L-R:  Meldreth station master Bern Parsons, Sarah Grove, Chair of SCDC Councillor de Lacey, Heidi Allen MP and partnership chair, councillor Susan van de Ven. Front Row: Junior travel ambassadors from Meldreth and Barrington primary schools. Picture: Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership

Back row L-R: Meldreth station master Bern Parsons, Sarah Grove, Chair of SCDC Councillor de Lacey, Heidi Allen MP and partnership chair, councillor Susan van de Ven. Front Row: Junior travel ambassadors from Meldreth and Barrington primary schools. Picture: Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership

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A "truly amazing" community rail partnership celebrated its successes with a party at Shepreth rail station on Friday, with South Cambs MP Heidi Allen opening festivities.

The group with Patrick Ladbury of GTR. Picture: Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail PartnershipThe group with Patrick Ladbury of GTR. Picture: Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership

The Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership was set up to promote the train as first choice for travel in the area.

Chair Susan van de Ven, who is also a Cambs county councillor, said: "We're celebrating a string of successes toward achieving this goal.

"Last year we introduced the post of project officer, held by Sarah Grove - made possible thanks to funding by Meldreth, Shepreth, Foxton and Melbourn parish councils, Govia Thameslink Railway and South Cambridgeshire District Council.

"As part of her work to promote train travel, Sarah works with local schools to encourage sustainable transport habits from an early age.

South Cambridgeshire District Council chairman Councillor Douglas de Lacey with the eight-carriage train cake. Picture: Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail PartnershipSouth Cambridgeshire District Council chairman Councillor Douglas de Lacey with the eight-carriage train cake. Picture: Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership

"Junior travel ambassadors at Meldreth and Barrington schools are passionate and persuasive advocates of walking, cycling and travelling by train.

"Govia Thameslink's generous 50 per cent discount fare for Cambridgeshire 16 to 18-year-olds in education and training originated at our stations is unique in the country. We've seen a modal shift to train amongst sixth formers.

"The introduction of half-hourly off-peak trains provides a transformational incentive in choosing the train over car travel. This was not a Department for Transport franchise requirement, but a GTR initiative in response to our request.

"With unprecedented, universal concern about our carbon footprints and all the consequences of car congestion, not least in the Greater Cambridge area where congestion charging is under discussion, there is every reason to try the train.

The group with Patrick Ladbury of GTR. Picture: Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail PartnershipThe group with Patrick Ladbury of GTR. Picture: Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership

"Our volunteers from across the villages keep platform gardens going year-round and in turn encourage respect for the environment.

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"We'd like to thank our MP Heidi Allen for her ongoing support in getting the best out of our rail service."

Katherine Cox, who manages and promotes community rail partnerships for Govia Thameslink Railway, said: "The Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership has achieved so much - it's truly amazing.

Back row L-R:  Meldreth station master Bern Parsons, Sarah Grove, Chair of SCDC Councillor de Lacey, Heidi Allen MP and partnership chair, councillor Susan van de Ven. Front Row: Junior travel ambassadors from Meldreth and Barrington primary schools. Picture: Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail PartnershipBack row L-R: Meldreth station master Bern Parsons, Sarah Grove, Chair of SCDC Councillor de Lacey, Heidi Allen MP and partnership chair, councillor Susan van de Ven. Front Row: Junior travel ambassadors from Meldreth and Barrington primary schools. Picture: Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership

"This hard-working group of volunteers led by Susan and Sarah has made a real difference, promoting the railway and improving the ambience of these stations.

"Railways are an integral part of the communities they serve and we are delighted to have this support."

Councillor Jose Hales, representing Meldreth and Shepreth at South Cambs District Council, said: "We're committed to doing all we can as a council to be green to our core, and working to make local train travel as easy and convenient as possible is an excellent way of contributing to this.

"The community rail partnership is a brilliant example of local groups, residents and the train industry working together to improve rail services in South Cambridgeshire.

"Working together to make local train links even better also helps local businesses too, making them more accessible. This is a real grassroots project and one that should be an example to the rest of the country."

MP Mrs Allen said: "This past year has taught us all how valuable a responsive, reliable and local train service can be for South Cambridgeshire communities.

"I've been delighted to work with GTR and Councillor Van de Ven to provide feedback from commuters which has improved our local services hugely.

"The Community Rail Partnership connects residents with the network and promotes sustainable travel from vibrant local stations. It's a vital link and one we must all utilise as much as possible."

Celebrations carried on at The Plough, Shepreth, where Meldreth Station Master Bern Parsons announced the arrival of an eight-carriage train cake.

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