A new ‘community rail partnership’ (CRP) has been formed for the Hastings line.
A CRP aims to connect local communities with their railway, encouraging local residents and visitors to use their local station more. The Hastings line CRP was formally launched at Etchingham station on Friday 16th October, appropriately in ‘Hastings Week’ (the Battle of Hastings took place on 14th October 1066).
Covid restrictions prevented a large event, but Tim Barkley, chair of the Southeast Communities Rail Partnership (SCRP) hosted the socially-distanced launch. Huw Merriman MP, local member of parliament and chair of the Transport Select Committee performed the official opening ceremony, which was also attended by David Wornham, southeastern’s passengers services director; James Abbott, chair of the Hastings line CRP; Catherine Simmons, the Hastings line CRP officer; and other guests from the Southeast Communities CRP, southeastern, and Network Rail.
Huw Merriman said :- “I was delighted to formally launch the Hastings line CRP at Etchingham, not least because I’m a regular commuter on the line. It is also a great example of what can be done to encourage local communities to engage with their local station, as there is a fantastic bistro on the station, run by a Community Interest Company. The line has many similar redundant buildings which can also be put to great community use.
“I am also a huge advocate for railways, and am very keen that we continue to encourage people to use trains, within the current Covid restrictions.
“I know how important community rail partnerships can be, and I wish the Hastings line CRP every success.’
David Wornham added :- “We already work with a number of community rail partnerships in Kent, and know what a vital service they provide. The Hastings line and the communities it serves will undoubtedly benefit from this partnership, and I look forward to working closely with the SCRP.”
Tim Barkley concluded :- “We were delighted to welcome Huw Merriman, David Wornham and other representatives from the rail industry to Etchingham. It is clear that they share our enthusiasm for the line, and our work. We also received a warm welcome from Paul and Julie Collins, who manage the bistro on the station, and Maggie Capps, the southeastern colleague who works at the station.
“James Abbott, Catherine Simmons, and my colleagues and I are delighted that the launch went so well, and we now look forward to building on this by working with local communities and other partners on the line.”