Perhaps, in this age of financial austerity, perhaps anticipated by David ("Call me Dave") Cameron's Con Dem's, the future trend is merely for Government (at all levels) to simply be there and to provide nothing or at least next to nothing for this costs the least. Think about it we had 13 years of New Labour Government and at the end of it what did we get, not a lot in my book.
The new bottom line, being when you have ineffective and inert Government, is that if you want a civic society or want to reopen an old railway station then you (as in us the citizens) have to make Government act on our behalf, whether it wants to or not. Now this is not the Big Society that Cameron has droned on about (before the election), this is people making Government (at all levels) pull its collective finger out and do what they want for their communities. And that's the stuff of a collective New Labour and Conservative nightmare ...
This potential future trend, has already been fully anticipated by the rail franchise holding companies, who are there as far I can cypher it, in it to make lots of money and provide a pretty minimal unresponsive service. Lets be honest here, our railways and our rail passengers have been neglected for long enough - we currently fork out a small fortune to the rail companies that hold the franchises - for a pretty poor unconnected service.
Despite the threat or promise (take your pick) of future cuts to the Welsh budget there are opportunities to make a real difference locally whether it be within our communities or to our neglected public transport infrastructure that should serve our communities. Many of our existing railway stations suffer from some pretty significant gaps in services, so are underused.
This is pretty basic stuff, if there are more stopping services then you will get more passengers. There is nothing quite so frustrating as standing on a platform watching a passenger train slow down to pass through the station without stopping. Our existing railway station need better toilet facilities, often lack any waiting room for passengers, if we invest in better facilities and better more frequent services then we will bring more passengers.
Now it's not just our existing railway stations that can be improved, there are plans to reopen a village railway station in Mid Wales that was closed in the 1960's. Passenger trains last stopped in Bow Street, near Aberystwyth over 40 years ago (in the South Caerleon, Magor and Pontrilas spring readily to mind). Now a local campaign group is working to reopen the railway station. Trafnidiaeth Canolbarth Cymru (TraCC), a group that works with councils on transport issues, is carrying out a feasibility study.
At the moment people living in Bow Street have to either drive to Borth or Aberystwyth to catch the train. People who would like to support plans for Bow Street station can write to:
Or email firstname.lastname@example.org between now and September 2010.
Small scale transport projects seeking funding, are appraised under a scheme funded by the assembly government.Then the appraisal is resented to officials so it can be considered for the assembly government's national transport plan. Well organised small scale local campaigns may provide the best opportunity to make a real difference when it comes to reopening or improving the services of our railway stations.
There are a number of good examples to follow; there are campaigns to reopen Carno Station and the successes of the Severn Tunnel Action Group who have campaigned to restore rail services and improvements in the passenger infrastructure and Better Trains 4 Chepstow who are campaigning amongst other things for more stopping services at Chepstow, are but a few good working examples of well motivated well organised local campaign groups working hard to reopen or improve services and facilities at their local railway stations (and not doubt making Government and the rail franchise holders wish that they had never been born).
This is obviously the model to follow to get better rail services for our communities and to re-open old railway stations, it's time to make our Government at all levels far more responsive to what we want not what they want. There has been too much talk and far too little activity over recent years. That has got to change whether it be at UK, Welsh or local Government level. Don't say that you have not been warned...