News release from 21/07/2020
Rail partnership recognised for supporting railway’s neighbours in Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton
A community rail partnership which encourages schools and businesses along the railway line in Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton to take the train and make the most of the local area has been recognised nationally for its work.
The Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership – hosted by South Cambridgeshire District Council and funded by Govia Thameslink Railway and local parish councils – was established to encourage the use of trains as an active and environmentally-friendly way to travel.
It does this by improving local stations; encouraging students to use trains safely, including supporting those such as disability groups who might have barriers to travelling; and forming a link between the local communities and the rail industry so that people can influence decision making at their local station. The partnership has now been awarded Accredited Status by the Department for Transport (DfT), which should give the partnership better access to funding and greater recognition among colleagues in the rail industry.
During 2019 one of the partnership’s successes was its work with four organisations – Eddies, Safe Soulmate, Red2Green and Melbourn Village College Young Carers – to run trips in which 39 individuals, alongside their carers, befrienders or teachers, were helped to use a train for the first time.
The partnership also engaged local businesses and residents to participate in five consultations on behalf of the community, ranging from discussions on how funding should be spent locally, where new stations should be sited, route alignments and traffic management at level crossings.
To support local businesses and encourage people to use train travel to make the most of the Rhee Valley – the area that Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton are situated in – the partnership also created and advertised local walking routes that could be completed from the three train stations. This supported pubs and cafés in the three villages, and Shepreth Wildlife Park, while also promoting local nature reserves and beauty spots within the Rhee Valley area.
Susan van de Ven, Chair of the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership, said: “This is a wonderful achievement and a tribute to the vision and passion of everyone who supports the partnership – from the very young to the elderly, and from village residents to business owners, who span the community that is built around the railway. Coming at a critical time for public transport, this is also an encouragement to build for the future. A special thank you to Govia Thameslink Railway and South Cambridgeshire District Council for helping so fundamentally to support our community development work, and to our Project Officer Sarah Grove for her particular push on making rail travel accessible to young people and disability groups.”
Volunteers at Meldreth station
Katherine Cox, Partnerships & CSR Manager at Govia Thameslink Railway, said: “I am delighted that the Community Rail Partnership has received accreditation, earned through hard work and commitment to the local community. It confirms the strong relationship that has been nurtured between the railway team and the local community, as well as the partnership’s welcoming and inclusive approach to the people they serve.”
Cllr Bill Handley, Lead Cabinet Member for Community resilience, health and wellbeing at South Cambridgeshire District Council (pictured below), said: “The Community Rail Partnership does fantastic work to support our residents and businesses in Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton to make the most out of having a local train station. At a time when we are passionately working towards achieving net zero carbon across the district, ensuring that communities who can use train travel have the right support to do so will be key. Well done to our officer Sarah Grove on this accolade and thanks to our wide volunteer network who offer practical support, such as maintaining station gardens.”
Despite the restrictions placed on current activity imposed by the Covid-19 situation, the partnership continues to work towards improving access and accessibility at the stations and will resume community activities when it is safe to do so.
Anyone interested in the partnership’s events and activities or becoming actively involved is invited to visit the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail website.