Lincolnshire News 24-05-19

Weekday trains return to Gainsborough Central after 25 years::

First weekday rail service in 26 years arrives at Gainsborough Central Station


Monday 20th May was an important day for the future economy of Gainsborough. At 7.55am the first weekday train for just over 25 years arrived at Gainsborough Central to mark the start of a new service between Gainsborough, Retford, Worksop and Sheffield. 

Trains will depart hourly Monday to Saturday calling at all stations between Gainsborough Central and Sheffield. As the name implies Central station is in the centre of Gainsborough immediately adjacent to Marshalls Yard shopping centre. The other station Gainsborough Lea Road is on the Sheffield/Doncaster to Lincoln line on the outskirts of Gainsborough. 

Since October 1993 the only trains to serve Gainsborough Central had been 3 trains each way on Saturdays between Sheffield and Cleethorpes and, despite campaigners using every opportunity such as a franchise change, to ask for improvements prospects for any major change had seemed remote. That was until plans were announced for a new hourly all stations service between Sheffield and Retford which would enable the Lincoln  - Sheffield – Leeds service to be speeded up by removing stops at lesser used stations.

Campaigners noticed that the layover time at Retford was sufficient for the service to be extended to Gainsborough Central and that this had some operational advantages so the campaign for the extension started in earnest. Campaigners including Railfuture came together to convince Northern Railway that the extension was possible and would have financial benefits.

Key to this was extensive lobbying and drawing together of support by the North Notts and Lincs Community Rail Partnership (NNLCRP) and especially their chairman, Barry Coward. The result was a partnership between the NNLCRP, West Lindsey District Council, Lincolnshire County Council and the train operator, Northern.

Now the service has started we are into an equally important second phase where all the partners will need to play their parts. This is to market the service, build up passenger numbers and be ready with a good business case for extension beyond Gainsborough when the current franchise ends.

As mentioned above the new service has enabled the Lincoln – Sheffield – Leeds service to become a genuine inter urban service. Journey times have already improved by around 9 minutes with more potential journey time reductions to come when new class 195 rolling stock arrives and some performance issues affecting timetable robustness have been resolved.

This success demonstrates an important lesson for campaigners – be flexible, look for opportunities that you might not expect to arise and if they do arise be ready to exploit them.