DETERMINATION must take centre stage as we go through the difficulties that so many are facing with Covid-19, that’s the message from the Shakespeare Line Promotion Group who this week said that Rail User Groups all over the UK need to examine their role and look to diversify and work as closely as possible with Train Operators and local communities.
The comments come as SLPG launched Friends of the Shakespeare Line, a small organisation that is designed to support individuals that have recently adopted railway stations along the line between Stratford upon Avon and Birmingham as well as some long-standing station adopters.
“Just over 50 years ago SLPG and others were engaged in a fight to stop our railway line being closed, over the past five months we have stepped up again but this time it’s different. In 2020 and beyond it’s about our local economy and well-being. We have to plan and organise now for the end of the pandemic so communities along our line, which have a lot to offer visitors, and yes Stratford upon Avon are in the best possible place to recover and attract the lifeblood back to our lovely part of the world, visitors” says Fraser Pithie, Secretary of SLPG.
SLPG’s comments follow the news last week that the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust was having to make some 95 redundancies in the face of the continuing Covid-19 pandemic. With several localised lockdown areas across the UK now imposed and daily reported cases of Covid-19 once again rising Fraser Pithie added:
“We have to face the situation and put determination at the centre of everything we do so we can to be as fit and ready to recover when the worst is finally over. We have always campaigned hard for the local economy. Leading change and getting our infrastructure ready for post Covid-19 is the best and right thing for us as a Rail User Group to be doing alongside Train Operators like West Midlands Railway who have been engaged with us throughout and who are continuing with great support towards what we are doing.”
As a small voluntary organisation the Friends of the Shakespeare Line will provide administrative support for all station adopters along our route by taking away from them any administration tasks and the need to write cases for funding etc so they can get on with bringing out the best for their stations.
Fraser added: “With passenger numbers across the UK railways currently very low due to the Covid-19 pandemic we realised early on 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”.