Friday, 25 October 2013

Community Rail Partnership Signing Is Just The Ticket

A groundbreaking Community Rail Partnership has been signed at Meldreth Station to help protect and enhance local rail services in the area.

The Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group, which last year won three national awards, has been working closely with First Capital Connect to draw up the partnership. This is the first community rail partnership for South Cambridgeshire and the first for First Capital Connect.

Network Rail, Cambridgeshire County Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council are joining the partnership, which has further support from local parish councils, local schools and businesses.

The aim of the partnership is to protect and support services which are vital for the rural areas they serve on the King’s Cross to Cambridge line.

The partnership was signed at Meldreth station today, Friday, 25 October and was attended by Cambridgeshire County Council Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning; South Cambridgeshire District Councillor Pippa Corney, Cabinet Member for Planning Policy and Localism; Cambridgeshire County Councillor Susan van de Ven; First Capital Connect’s Managing Director David Stratham; Sallie Bates, Maintenance Protection Co-ordinator for Network Rail as well as supporters and residents.

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% student discount and our booking office at Meldreth. We are now working hard to improve disabled access at Meldreth Station.”

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Ian Bates, Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning, said: “We are really pleased to sign this agreement and work closely with the community, local councils and the rail industry. Good transport connections are vital to help rural areas, reduce isolation and improve access to essential services and facilities. “

South Cambridgeshire District Councillor Pippa Corney, Cabinet Member for Planning Policy and Localism, said: "Today's signing is a positive step forward for this community and demonstrates their commitment to improving the local rail network. The partnership approach is a great way to give communities a sense of ownership in how their rail services are run and to better understand the needs of passengers."

Speaking at the launch of the Community rail partnership, David Stratham, First Capital Connect Managing Director, said: “As a railway operator, we play an integral role in the community. For many people across our network, we are their primary means of transport.

“By signing the Community Rail Partnership, we are affirming our commitment to being part of the local community here and helping to create stations that we can all be proud of.”