Hartlepool station volunteers set to play part in railways Covid recovery
Hartlepool rail station volunteers are poised to play their part in the region’s recovery from Covid-19 as part of a grassroots movement.
The Friends of Hartlepool Station are part of a growing community rail movement which includes rail volunteers and partnerships working to improve local engagement with railways and stations by working with train operators, local authorities, and other partners.
Members, including in Hartlepool, have continued to strive for communities and work towards a greener transport future, despite the pandemic.
The movement also aims to play a pivotal role in helping the area to bounce back from Covid.
Jools Townsend, chief executive of Community Rail Network, said: “As we start to rebuild from Covid-19, within the community rail movement, and across our railways, we will be redoubling efforts, to create confidence and togetherness, and play our part in enabling more people to get around by socially and environmentally responsible means.”
New figures show that in the North over 3,000 volunteers give over 140,000 hours a year worth £11.7 million to help people get the most from their railways, promoting social inclusion and sustainable travel and bring stations back to life.
Mike Anderson, honorary secretary of the Friends of Hartlepool Station, said the coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions had severely restricted their activities over the course of the last year.
He said: “The Sunday cleaning of the station to maintain a welcoming and presentable arrival/departure point for travellers to/from our town has long been a feature of our involvement at the station.
“An additional recent initiative by our members, which has certainly been prescient, was our upkeep and removal of the considerable weed overgrowth and vegetation from the disused, southbound platform.
“Since our intervention, funding of £1.5 million has been approved to try to boost capacity at Hartlepool railway station by bringing the disused platform back into service.”
Mr Anderson added: “Our group’s activities have included ways to improve the station facilities, successfully advocating the introduction of heated waiting rooms, repairs to sliding doors, security cameras, better signage, customer information screens, cycle storage etc.
“Hopefully our activities go some way to giving back something worthwhile to the community."