Resignalling work is currently taking-place between Lowdham and Newark.
Over the weekend of October 1 and 2 the Lowdham signal box was abolished and trains were replaced by buses between Nottingham and Newark. On October 22 and 23 it is the turn of Fiskerton Junction and Fiskerton Station, so replacement buses will again operate. At Carlton coaches leave from the 44 bus stop in Netherfield, those for Nottingham depart on the hour for most of the time. Those for Newark will use the 44 bus stop for Gedling and leave around 2 minutes past the hour. It is expected the times will be the same as October 1 and 2. Finally on November 5 and 6, Staythorpe and Newark Castle signalboxes will close and again there will be no trains on those 2 days. Posters for the timings of the buses will be posted on the Nottingham side of the platform the week before, and are already available on the website. Coaches take much longer than the trains, so the 09.00 departure is a replacement for the 08.10 train to Nottingham. They are allowed 10 minutes from Netherfield to Station Street in Nottingham. You do not pay the driver and there are restrictions on what you can take, such as cycles and push chairs that do not fold. Trains will run between Newark and Lincoln and from Nottingham to Derby and Matlock and other destinations.
On Bank Holiday Monday, August 29, a team from East Midlands Trains (EMT) tidied up the car park, cutting back bushes and clearing weeds and rubbish. Further improvements could be in the pipeline.
There are no plans at present to install ticket machines as they are very costly, but if you book tickets online and have to collect them from a ticket machine. If you have booked from Carlton and have the paperwork, or details on your phone, then you can travel without tickets until you collect them from the nearest station with a ticket machine.
EMT are looking at whether it would be possible to install card readers for Robin Hood Cards, as they are aware that many journeys are being made without these being recorded on the train, incidentally pay-as-you-go cards are not valid on trains.
You might have missed the chalkboard that I had outside the entrance to the Newark side platform when the weather was dry. This, along with other amateur notices, was banned for a short period, but I now have permission to continue using a chalked notice, but at the moment the board is used elsewhere. I hope to reinstate a board soon, and this time use rainproof chalk!
I haven’t been able to find any official figures as to how well the new train service to Newark is doing. However it is thought the increase in customers between Nottingham and Newark is around 27%. Carlton is doing very well and the increase in people using the trains is getting on for 200% from my observations. On Thursday, September 1 I saw all the trains from 06.01am to 12.00pm and counted 106 passengers getting on and off; it used to be around 80 all day. The 08.08 to Matlock on Wednesday 5th October 5 had 32 join and 5 alight.
On September 27 a meeting was held at St. George’s Centre, Netherfield, on the initiative of Gedling Borough Council to discuss the possibility of extra trains at Netherfield. Representatives from East Midlands Trains, Gedling Borough Council and Nottinghamshire County Council were present; 8 of us in total. This meeting went very well, and the overall consensus was that there should be more trains calling at the station. However, there is no quick fix, but things are moving. In May 2018 the current EMT franchise ends and submissions from stakeholders (anyone who has an interest in what is being proposed) are being formulated as to the level of service required from the new franchisee, which could still be EMT, so aspirations for both Netherfield and Radcliffe are for an hourly train service. Having talked to passengers I can see there is a demand there but of course EMT requires some positive feedback as obviously most stations want an hourly service. How can you help our case? Well, if you are a user or potential user if more trains were available then please send me an email or see me at the station, and I can forward this to Gedling Borough Council and EMT for the Poacher Line (Nottingham to Skegness line). Emails just sent to EMT might not reach the people working on this case more than trains.
NETHERFIELD AND CARLTON STATIONS
At present when you do an enquiry for a train from either station on the internet you only get what you ask for. This might sound obvious but if you want a train to Netherfield to Nottingham at 8.45am it will send you to Grantham and THEN to Nottingham where it should be programmed to say ‘try Carlton’ instead. I have been told this will soon be rectified so that you will be shown the route between the two stations. A lot of potential customers must be lost because of what they are currently told.
Better signage at the stations is being considered and we should be getting Platform 1 and 2 signs at Carlton soon. I have asked for the ‘this platform for Lincoln’ to be changed to ‘Newark’ as you can go to Lincoln from either platform (either change at Newark or Notts).
STATION ADOPTERS CONFERENCE
On Friday, September 23 Francis and I went to the annual station adopters conference at the Ipro Stadium in Derby. There were over 100 station adopters from all over the EMT area at the conference, where we were given updates on developments in the past year and also details about what is being planned in the future. Just launched is a new prospectus called ‘East Midlands: A Railway for Growth’ which outlines an exciting vision for rail services in the region through to 2019. This includes new bio-mode trains (electric and diesel) for London services. Improvements to local train services are also planned, but no additional trains for these services will be available for another year. Cycle facilities at all stations is being looked at.
There is the opportunity to talk to EMT managers and for them to listen to suggestions we put forward. In the question and answer session Francis was able to ask if we could have more trains at Netherfield and also highlighted the state of Carlton car park. We have since received an email to say these points have been passed to the relevant departments in EMT.
There has been the odd question when the conductor on the 9.05am to Matlock has charged peak-time fares. I have checked with EMT and off-peak prices from Carlton on Monday to Friday start at 8.59am so off-peak tickets are valid.
At present there are no plans to have the 7.04am train to London St Pancras call at Carlton as the schedule does not allow the extra time required.
The East Midlands has had the lowest level of rail spending per head in every one of the past six years. In 2014/15 it was £34 compared to £353 in London. In the West Midlands it was £68.
1.7 billion rail passenger journeys were made in the financial year ending 31/3/2016 – an increase of 3.7% or 60 million journeys over the year.
Nottingham has just been awarded ‘Best Large Station’ award which is quite an achievement when you think how many large stations there are in the country.
The Robin Hood student year pas is now available for just £270 until 31/7/17. For details visit robinhoodnetwork.co.uk
I have heard that a steam train will pass through Netherfield on November 5. No details at present.