A petition has been set up calling for funding to support a community rail partnership aimed at improving train services in and around Market Rasen.
The campaign – started by Barry Coward on website ‘38 Degrees’ – calls for for better rail services, improved stations and better integrated rail/bus services, with supporters saying the current service is ‘beyond a joke’ and that ‘real action is needed’.
The petition is directed at the Department for Transport, Association of Community Rail Partnerships, East Midlands Trains and Arriva Rail North and focuses on Market Rasen, Brigg, Barnetby, Kirton-in-Lindsey, Lincoln, Saxilby, Worksop, Retford, Shireoaks and Gainsborough Lea Road and Central stations.
It states: “In order to improve rail travel in Bassetlaw and Northern Lincolnshire we require financial and practical support for a new community rail partnership covering services to 11 stations.”
Mr Coward said: “Community rail partnerships (CRP) have been instrumental in achieving spectacular increases in use of rail through innovative marketing, improved services and better station facilities.
“Their work includes improving bus links to stations, developing walking and cycling routes, bringing station buildings back to life, art and education projects and organising special events which promote the railway and its relevance to the community.
“Basically it’s getting more folks to use trains and encouraging them to use bikes, buses and walking and not use their cars.
“More passengers strengthen the case for more trains and better stations.
“GRaB (Gainsborough, Retford and Brigg rail and bus users group) has already achieved much that would normally be done by a CRP.
“However there is a limit to the work that can be done by a users group. A CRP recognised by ACoRP and the DfT has a stronger relationship with train companies who are obliged to work with them.”
Resident Marc Cherry is a former railway worker who is backing the petition - and says he is ‘appalled’ at how the county’s rail services have ‘gone backwards’.
“In mid 80s I travelled from Market Rasen to Barry, South Wales, changing at Derby, Bristol and Cardiff, with excellent connections there and back, arriving home on 10.30pm from Lincoln same day. The current state of rail services there is pathetic.
“The more signatures in support of this the better.”
Mr Cherry also questioned the use of single-carriage trains in what he described as ‘today’s overcrowded railway’. He said that to do this was ‘ludicrous’.
Another supporter of the campaign said: “Public transport in much of Lincolnshire is in a sorry state and its users are poorly represented.”
An East Midlands Trains spokesman said: “We are active supporters of community rail and along with our partners, have made some significant improvements on the three community rail lines on our network. We have delivered major improvements to train services and investment in stations, which has resulted in large passenger growth on these lines. We will continue to look for opportunities to develop community rail on our network even further and have recently appointed a dedicated new stakeholder and community manager for Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire to further enhance our existing support in this area.”
In March 60 people were left stranded at Market Rasen station after they were unable to board a packed single-carriage train heading towards Lincoln on a Saturday afternoon.