What is the difference between the Friends of the Barton Line (FBL) and the Barton Cleethorpes Community Rail Partnership (BCCRP)?
The BCCRP was created by FBL (a Rail User Group) in November 2005 following Government recommendations. The role of a CRP is to interact with local stakeholders (such as town and parish councils) and the Train Operating Company concerning a line's performance and progress, whereas a RUG represents the travelling public and lobbies for their requests and rights. The work of CRPs and RUGs should complement each other and there can sometimes be an overlap in which does what. The BCCRP is run by a separate committee, the current chairman being Mike Gathercole who can be telephoned on 07775 775853. In February 2007 the Department for Transport designated the line a pilot Community Rail Route and the passenger service a pilot Community Rail Service. However, no benefits appear to have accrued from these designations as yet.
What is Community Rail Humber?
CRH has been set up to replace the Humber Region Rail Development Company (which ceased trading on 31st March 2014) to promote the railway services linking Malton - Scarborough - Hull, Hull - York, Hull - Goole - Doncaster, and Barton - Cleethorpes - Gainsborough. The board of directors comprises representatives of the funding partners (Northern Rail, TransPennine Express, North Yorkshire County Council, First Hull Trains and ACoRP). Invited to participate are representatives of the Yorkshire Coast and Barton-Cleethorpes CRPs, NLC, NELC, HCC and ERC. The company aims to oversee rail development and help co-ordinate the views of the major stakeholders in the region in order to ensure a strong and respected voice regarding investment and service levels.
Is the branch to New Holland pier still in use?
The last time that trains ran into the Bulk Services sidings was in the late 1990s to bring out imported gypsum. There are currently no plans to run further trains - indeed the grooves in the freight track at Barrow Road crossing have been tarmac-ed over - but the possibility is still open. The track now stops short of the pier.
Is it possible to visit the pier and dock at New Holland and the signal boxes along the railway?
FBL has organised quite a few popular visits to these fascinating places over the years and will gladly try to do so again subject to demand. However, obtaining permission is no longer as easy as it used to be and is subject to maximum and minimum numbers attending. The pier and dock are hazardous working environments and so visits are normally restricted to the occasional quiet Sunday. A public footpath (the Nev. Cole way) passes along the south side of the dock from where a reasonable view can be seen - take the straight road behind the signal box and turn right at the end. A good view of the pier can be had by following the public footpath into the Bulk Services site and along the north west side of the railway, turning right towards the Humber at the dike.
How can I find out about the Easter and Santa Specials?
The Easter and Santa Specials are now organised by the BCCRP (see above). The Specials are the normal timetabled trains but with a special theme and they usually run on the Saturday before Easter and Christmas respectively. At Easter a giant chocolate egg is usually raffled on a morning train with the proceeds going to charity, whereas at Christmas Santa usually travels on one or two return morning runs giving out treats to the children. In each case there is no extra charge above the normal train fare.
Wouldn't it be nice to have steam trains running between Barton and Cleethorpes?
Yes it would, but with this comes a great deal of preparation, expense and responsibility. The occasional chartered steam train (organised by experienced commercial tour operators) is granted permission to come up as far as New Holland. However, only a small tank engine might be permitted on the Barton branch, and a compelling case would need to be put forward to run regularly on the main line beyond Habrough. Unless a wealthy and competent business partner takes an interest then the best that could be realistically hoped for, expense aside, is for some heritage diesel stock on summer Sundays.