RAILWAY enthusiasts are on track for The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Patriotic volunteers of the recently formed Community Station Partnership (CSP), along West Midlands Railway’s (WMR) Shakespeare Line, have been working hard to get things prepped and ready for the nation-wide celebration.
They are planting thousands of red, white and blue plants – supplied by Earlswood Garden and Landscape Centre – along the line running between Birmingham and Stratford.
The Friends of the Shakespeare Line (FoSL), who launched the CSP, was formed at the beginning of the first lockdown and now has an energetic membership of over 90 enthusiastic volunteers who work with railway operators, including WMR, Network Rail and private businesses.
Fraser Pithie, chair of The Friends of Shakespeare Line, explained how the new group was formed.
“In the first lockdown, The Shakespeare Line Rail User Group, which had been established for over two decades, had a vision to reach out to individuals living nearby to the 21 railway stations on the line.
“They wanted to communicate the idea of a people-led volunteer movement that could help with rail recovery and community regeneration. We were overwhelmed with the response and could not believe the enthusiasm and how many people signed up to care for their local stations, to support their own neighbourhoods.”
The results of this people-powered partnership have exceeded all expectations. The first annual report logged tens of thousands of community hours, documented the public benefit from these efforts, and outlined the positive impact for local economies all along the railway line.
This included volunteers coming forward to get involved to improve facilities, enhance stations and contribute towards the recovery of rail, which encourage new people to travel by train.
Fraser added: “Not only are we supporting station volunteers, but we are determined that the services we purchase should support the local economy. Along the route, the impressive Platinum Jubilee banners and boards have been designed and supplied by a local creative agency and we have recommended their work and community-supportive ethos to many contacts.”
Fay Easton, head of stakeholder and community at WMR, was full of praise for the efforts of the volunteers.
She said: “The 23-mile route along the Shakespeare Line is trailblazing a powerful new model for community rail.
As the industry moves towards the formation of ‘Great British Railway’, this new standard for Community Station Partnerships underpins a vision for true collaboration between passengers, communities and service providers.”