SLPG Launches Friends of the Shakespeare Line
Sunday 4th October 2020:
It’s incredible to think that in 1969, and again in 1984, the then British Rail tried to close the railway line between Birmingham and Stratford upon Avon. Our precedessor organisation the North Warwick Line Defence Committee led the fight and stopped the proposed closures, indeed in 1969, closure was stopped within only two days of the last timetabled train!
Over 50 years on and the “Shakespeare Line” is thriving with millions of rail passenger journeys a year the line is a major artery for both Birmingham and Stratford upon Avon serving business users, visitors and leisure users alike. Now, SLPG, in conjunction with Train Operator, West Midlands Trains, is stepping up promotion of the line and all it has to offer.
Over the past four months SLPG has gone out to the communities along its line and sought engagement and commitment from individuals, community groups and in some cases Parish Councils. As a result SLPG has now got every one of the 17 railway stations along the route adopted by locals. Crucially, West Midlands Trains and Birmingham City Council are helping to fund the activities.
Station adopters can make a tremendous difference because they bring care and a feeling of well-being to our railway stations by planting fantastic flower displays, sharing poetry, providing history and local background to places through information boards and the list goes on. In simple terms, station adopters care about their community and their community railway station.
SLPG wants to help station adoption and by doing so attract growing passenger usage of the Shakespeare Line. The need to properly support all the station adopters is where the new Friends of the Shakespeare Line comes in. As a small and voluntary organisation the Friends of the Shakespeare Line will provide administrative support for all station adopters along our route and in doing so help them achieve their aims and plans by taking away from them any administration tasks and the need to write cases for funding etc.
Some of the team from Earlswood Garden & Leisure Centre with Fraser Pithie, Secretary of SLPG.
In what is believed to be a unique partnership SLPG will co-ordinate all plant and horticultural needs for all the station adopters with Earlswood Garden & Leisure Centre (EG&LC) who are adjacent to and have themselves adopted Earlswood station. We are so pleased that EG&LC have agreed to supply all stations along the route and provide great support the station adopters and Friends of the Shakespeare Line.
The Secretary of SLPG says “With passenger numbers across the UK railways currently very low due to the Covid-19 pandemic we realised early it was very important that we set about work and activity to attract leisure travellers onto the trains in the future in order to replace some of the commuter journeys that may be lost through working from home. To achieve this aim, our line through the dedicated volunteer work of station adopters combined with the forward thinking and active support of our Train Operator, West Midlands Railway, will create attractive stations that promote visitor destinations effectively along the route and provide pleasant journey experiences, be it by normal service trains or on the steam hauled Shakespeare Express. The new Friends of the Shakespeare Line will enable adopters to get on with what’s most important, getting their stations to flourish.
Passengers will soon start to see signs of activity at stations along the route as plans and actions take shape ready to bring the very best to all our stations from Spring 2021 onwards. We will be making more exciting announcements in the weeks and months to come.