I’m preparing to head off to the opening of Community Rail week which is kicking off with events in Bradford and Bingley. This year the message will be centred on increasing confidence and encouraging people to travel by train with the simple call to action, ‘Give the Train a Try’. You can find out what’s happening where and when by following this link.
Afterwards I’ll be heading down South as I’m staying in the London area tonight ready for the opening of Crossrail tomorrow where I have another assignment.
Feel free to keep popping back to see how my day goes…
The journey begins. I’m off to Bradford for our first event of the day. Taking me there is a Northern 2-car Class 195. Unsurprisingly, it’s busy!
I’ve strolled across from Bradford Interchange to Forster Sq to await the arrival of the rest of the Community Rail Network team. It’s a walk I always enjoy as ‘Bratfud’ (as the locals pronounce it) has some fantastic buildings. I keep promising myself that I’ll have a day out in the city taking the camera for a wander to photograph some of the delights the city holds. I passed this small slice of history on the way.
Sadly, the modern versions of the city’s stations are hardly architectural gems and are vastly reduced in area and stature.
I’m back! It’s been a very hectic few hours so I’ve not had time to blog at all as the day job’s taken precedence. We all rendezvoused at Forster Square where CRN staff were joined by colleagues from Northern Rail and other organisations as well as the women from East meets West. The idea behind this group is to bring women together from different communities by using the train. The women selected have very little or no rail confidence so travelling by train with Community Rail Partnership officers and community group leads inspires them to take further trips – alone, with friends and with their own families. The group enables the women to have different experiences which they can access locally by train. Some of the women are single mums and are from isolated backgrounds so the project has really helped raise their self-esteem and provide them with a sense of community. They were all very excited to be taking part in the the event. Before we left we were joined by Rail Minister Wendy Morton, who is the MP for Aldridge-Brownhills. Needless to say, I was kept fully occupied taking pictures on the train and at Bigley station where the Minister met other Community Rail Officers and the local station friends. It was all extremely informal. To her credit the Minister was open and approachable to all, not surrounded by SPADs or ‘minders’.
Afterwards we we took part in a walk from the station to the top of the famous Bingley five-flight locks on the Leeds-Liverpool canal, guided by staff from the Canal and River Trust. Walking backwards along a canal bank whilst taking pictures of dignitaries isn’t my favourite job as there’s always the worry that you’ll end up either going arse over tit or in the cabal, but I managed it without accident!
At the top of the lock we took over the small cafe for a lunch of tea and sandwiches before retracing our steps to the station and disappearing off in different directions. I headed into Leeds and found a quiet corner of the Leeds Tap to download and edit some pictures before sending a batch out to the various PR and Media people on my lists. Now I’m sat on LNER’s 15:15 service to London which has become a mobile editing suite as I sort out a bigger picture selection. Meanwhile, here’s a few for your delectation.
Rail Minister Wendy Morton (seated, left) talks to some of the women from East meets West on the train to Bingley from Bradford. Standing is Karen Bennett. Karen is community rail education officer at Community Rail Lancashire, and a CRN Board member.
Everyone poses for a group photograph at Bingley station with some of the excellent work of the station friends on display behind.
The Bingley station friends having a laugh and a giggle with the Minister.
We’re now approaching London after an easy (albeit slightly late) run from Leeds. The weather’s picked up too. It looks like there’s a nice sunny evening in the offing. I’m not going to be staying long in the centre but there is one place Im going to stop at on my way through Euston…
It’s time to call it a day folks. As I was staying in the Watford area I hooked up with a local friend whom I met when I was spending a lot of time down here working for Network Rail on the 2014-15 Watford blockades. Alan Harte is a fellow railway person, cat lover and beer aficionado – so it would have been rude not to meet up for a couple of jars.
Right now I’m back at my accommodation, repowering all my devices and editing pictures ready for another busy day tomorrow as Crossrail finally opens. Watch this space…
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