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North Staffordshire Community Rail Partnership is celebrating raising a huge funding total to invest in the North Staffordshire Line, which runs from Crewe to Derby.
The Partnership, which brings together local authorities, rail interest groups and train operators to promote and develop the North Staffordshire Line has secured a total of just over £720,000 since April 2006. The funds have been secured from a variety of sponsors including Local Transport Plans, regeneration funding pots, community funds and the rail industry.
In 2006, £244,200 was won via a bid to the North Staffordshire Regeneration Zone. The funds were used to improve passenger waiting facilities at Longport and Longton stations in Stoke-on-Trent, providing new shelters, customer information systems and CCTV. Thanks to the funding won, the stations were voted Most Improved Community Stations in the 2008 National Community Rail awards.
In 2007, a total amount of £281,800, including contributions from partners Cheshire East Council, Derbyshire and Staffordshire County Councils and East Midlands Trains, was secured through the Department for Transport Access for All scheme. The funds enabled the provision of customer information systems at Alsager, Blythe Bridge, Kidsgrove and Tutbury & Hatton stations, providing essential train running time information to keep passengers informed about their service.
Bids by the Partnership to organisations like the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) and O2 It’s Your Community have also gleaned smaller pots of money to fund station garden improvements and materials for station artwork projects by local schools.
Community organisations along the area of the line, including Alsager Town Council and Forsbrook Parish Council have also contributed to help develop their local stations and improve local information provided about the service.
The Partnership was officially formed in the summer of 2005 with the support of four local authorities, Cheshire East (formerly Cheshire County Council), Derbyshire and Staffordshire County Councils, Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the then train operator for the line Central Trains. They are the Partnership’s Management Group, together with East Midlands Trains, who took over as new operator of the line with the award of the East Midlands Rail Franchise in November 2007.
Passenger numbers for the line are growing each year; the most recent figures, based on a measurement of 12 months until the end of January 2010, show an overall growth of 17.8% based on the same period during 2008/2009.
Chair of the Partnership, Michael Willmot said: “The success of the Partnership in which local authorities, the train operating company - East Midlands Trains - and rail user representatives work together to promote the Line is self evident both in the amount of investment and in the significant increase in passenger numbers which has ensued. This success would not have been achieved without the hard work of the Partnership Officer, Faye Lambert. She has made an enormous contribution to the Partnership aim of making rail travel a more attractive option. It has been pleasing to see the strong and positive passenger response to the initiatives and improvements that have been introduced.”
David Horne, Commercial Director for East Midlands Trains added: “Since the start of our franchise in November 2007, we have been delighted with Faye’s relentless energy and commitment in driving forward improvements for the North Staffordshire Line, supported by the other key partners and individuals in the Partnership. It’s been great to work as part of the Partnership, and we look forward to seeing even more improvements in the near future!”
The projects and fund-raising continue: the Partnership is currently working with Network Rail towards the completion of a new waiting room facility for Kidsgrove station, which is being joint-funded by Staffordshire County Council, and also with East Midlands Trains to provide CCTV at both Alsager and Tutbury & Hatton stations.