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  • Friends of the Shakespeare Line

Shakespeare Line Volunteers Bring Summer to the Heart of Birmingham

Summer arrived at Birmingham's New Street station on Thursday courtesy of a group of local volunteers who, along with some of Network Rail's staff participating in their staff volunteering programme, brightened the approach to New Street station with a new vibrant and colourful display of flowers.

Around twenty volunteers from the Friends of the Shakespeare Line, a Community Station Partnership of volunteers who look after and enhance every railway station between Birmingham Moor St and Stratford upon Avon, travelled up to New Street on Thursday, 24 June. Armed with their trowels, gloves, and gardening expertise, they offered to help Network Rail transform the flower beds outside Birmingham New Street, Britain's busiest railway station outside London.

The station's approach's makeover was supported by a key local business, Earlswood Garden and Landscape Centre, who supplied all the plants. The Garden Centre has already sponsored planting at every station along the railway between Birmingham and Stratford upon Avon, known as the Shakespeare Line. Earlier in the year, over 60 new planters have also been made and installed at the stations by the Earlswood company, situated next to Earlswood railway station.

As part of its commitment to the community Network Rail runs a volunteering programme with its staff. As a result, several of Network Rail's Central team at New Street joined the Shakespeare Line volunteers to help plant and transform the four large stone planters situated outside two of the frontages to Birmingham's New Street station.

Patrick Power from Network Rail said, "Let's not beat about the bush – it's been great to work with our volunteers to spruce up the area around the station as more passengers return to the rail network.

We're hoping these plants will make a difference to station users as they enjoy the new greenery in the lighter evenings this summer."

Fraser Pithie, who manages the volunteer-led Friends of the Shakespeare Line group, said, "It's great for volunteers from several smaller local stations. They have brought their commitment and gardening expertise along, and together with Network Rail's team of staff volunteers, they have transformed the frontages at New St Station. It's one of the benefits that arise from volunteers and Network Rail working much more closely together to improve the well-being of our local communities.

Thursday's event took place as flower displays along the railway route between Birmingham and Stratford upon Avon have blossomed and brightened up stations and passenger journeys due to the line's volunteer army.

West Midlands Railway staff who operate the train services along the Shakespeare Line have commented too. WMR's Manager for the line, Ian Taylor, said, "Train crews are telling us they enjoy working the Shakespeare Line because it is looking lovely with all the plants and the care that volunteers are bringing to each of the stations, making them enjoyable places for passengers use and staff to work."


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