Have you thought of using public transport when planning your next walk?
Go by train to Bardon Mill and walk to Vindolanda or The Sill National Discovery Centre and explore one or both of these attractions. With some spectacular views of the Tyne Valley area to enjoy, why not leave the car at home and have an adventure on the train.
The impact of trespass on the railway is wide ranging – there is the risk of being seriously or fatally injured, trains delayed or cancelled, the long-term effect on train crew, passengers and other rail staff who have witnessed or had to deal with the results of a trespass incident.
Originally launched during lockdown in 2020, the Backtrack competition was designed by members of Community Rail’s Education Network to tackle the very worrying number of trespass reports on our railways despite lockdown restrictions. Children as young as 6 years old had been involved. It is not just childrrn who trespass on the railway. Many of you will have seen images of adults walking across the tracks or jumping down off the platform at a station. Instances in the North East have been recorded on the Tyne Valley at Blaydon and Wylam. The Durham Coast has experience similar issues, particularly near Hartlepool, Redcar Central and between Seaham and Hartlepool.
The 2020 anti-trespass competition was open to young people aged 7 to 18 and it produced some excellent entries. Tyne Valley CRP and others in the Education Network have been able to share some of these on social media and when working with children and youth groups in the limited ways possible within the restrictions in place. You can see one of last year’s winning entries on YouTube.
The Education Network, who were recognised with the 2020 Community Rail Award for the Outstanding Contribution to Community Rail, are repeating the competition in 2021 but this year everyone aged 7 year and above can get involved. This is a national competition, which is being supported by many train companies, Network Rail and British Transport Police.
How can I get I involved? You can create an entry – a song, a script, a storyboard or video which highlights the dangers of trespass on our railways. You can encourage your family, friends, work colleagues and neighbours to get involved too. Through the support of the rail industry there are some great prizes for the winners. Find out more about the competition, which closes on 30 September, at the Backtrack website.
Fiona Forsythe, Officer at Tyne Valley CRP, is a member of the Education Network team who have developed and promoting the competition and she said, “This competition is not just about prizes, anyone taking part will be thinking about the dangers of trespassing on the railway and will be helping to spread the anti-trespass message in a way that the usual publicity does not”.
Station adopters of Blaydon Station have taken the first steps in a new initiative to twin with another station friends' group in the North of England, an idea they have been keen for develop for some time. Twinning with another group on a different route will lead to exchange of ideas, best practice and experiences of station adoption in a different area.
On Monday, 5 July 2021, the initial steps were taken as Community Rail Cumbria officer, Warren Birch met with the Blaydon Station Adopters and Tyne Valley CRP officer, Fiona Forsythe. Fortunately the weather was good and Warren was shown the new mural at Blaydon and the work that had been undertaken with the planters. The station entrance was decorated especially for Warren’s visit, so the flags were really out.
“Twinning is like having a blank canvas to work on”, said Joseph Codling, Blaydon Station Adopter.
Having adjourned for a coffee, plans were drawn up to develop the project and we look forward to progressing twinning and establishing further links between the Tyne Valley and the Cumbrian Coast.
Warren Birch said: “I love the idea of a group sharing their skills, knowledge and expertise with another county, helping inspire others and creating new friends”
Following the introduction of the Azuma train fleet, alongside substantial infrastructure improvements at King's Cross and Peterborough, a major rewrite of timetables and services on the East Coast Main Line has been undertaken with the new timetables being introduced in May 2022. A consultation exercise is currently being undertaken and we urge you to have your say.
In place of the current two trains per hour for each of LNER, CrossCountry and Transpennine Express, the new pattern of service sees three LNER trains per hour to London, two CrossCountry trains, and only one Transpennine Express service per hour to Liverpool. The Manchester Airport service will now start and finish at York. Some LNER and CrossCountry trains will go north to Edinburgh and beyond, but Transpennine Express won't. The pre-pandemic pattern of Northern services along the Tyne Valley will continue but the times will change.
Each of the affected train operators has its own consultation site.