Have you ever wanted to look after your own railway station?
It might sound a strange idea, but Arriva Trains Wales has been offering people in North Wales the opportunity to take over their local station for more than 13 years.
Members of the public volunteer to take on unstaffed railway stations in their area through the national ‘Adopt a Station’ scheme which was launched in 2004.
More than 130 Arriva Trains Wales stations have since been adopted by community-spirited volunteers, with a further 84 up for grabs across the region.
The ‘Adopt a Station’ scheme aims to help improve links with local communities and customers living near unstaffed railway stations with similar objectives to the ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ scheme, where local people help the train company by keeping an eye on railway stations that are not staffed.
So what do station adopters do? As an adopter, the basic requirement is to submit at least two reports a month about the condition of the station.
Arriva Trains Wales will ask you to report on matters such as litter, graffiti, vandalism, lighting, information help points and timetable information.
If there are any issues that might need addressing, the station manager will ensure maintenance operatives are aware so that they can be addressed.
At some stations it may be possible to care for floral displays or the station garden and there are many great examples where volunteers maintain their gardens to a very high standard with a number being recognised by winning national awards.
There is no financial commitment to you as an adopter and there is no requirement for you to undertake any cleaning or maintenance issues as these are done on a weekly basis by Arriva Trains Wales’ staff.
You can adopt a station as an individual or as part of a group.
In return for your support, adopters receive an annual travel voucher that can be used on any part of the UK rail network and you will also be invited to one of five annual regional conferences held in the spring in Swansea, Cardiff, Shrewsbury, Portmeirion and Chester, where you can meet other adopters and find out the latest news from within the business.
Arriva’s community relations manager, Geraint Morgan, said: “Station adopters don’t have to do any cleaning or maintenance because these are done on a regular basis by our own staff.
“They act as an extra pair of eyes and ears at our stations where we don’t have any on-site staff and report any problems.
“It’s a really vital job and we are very grateful to all the volunteers across our network who make the charitable effort on behalf of their local community to help keep their stations at their best.
“Some of our stations have gardens or floral displays, and our volunteers have not only enhanced the appearance of their local railway station, but also won national awards for their green fingered efforts.
“Individuals or groups can adopt a station, and there’s plenty of potential for improvements if we all work together – even if you just want a pleasant platform to sit and watch the trains go past.”
One station where the impact of the scheme has been really felt is Chirk where a volunteer group – Friends of Chirk Station – took on responsibility for the station over a decade ago.
Since then the station has been regularly entered into the Royal Horticultural Society It’s Your Neighbourhood Awards, receiving five ‘Outstanding’ assessments.
Other community projects carried out at Chirk Station – in partnership with the Brownies, Girl Guides and members of the Chirk Fire Service – helped the Friends scoop a major Network Rail Environment Award which recognised efforts to improve the station appearance and place it at the heart of the community.
Christine Ashford, spokesman for the Friends of Chirk Station, said: “We do lots of gardening work, keeping the station clean, tidy and free of weeds, rubbish and graffiti and generally making the whole site an environment that is appreciated not only by our community, but also by train users and tourists who come to visit this area.
“Footfall has doubled since the adoption and now we have CCTV cameras, an extended car park, monitors in both shelters and a few awards. We have had great fun and success.”
l For more information on Arriva Trains Wales’ ‘Adopt a Station’ scheme visit www.arrivatrains
wales.co.uk/AdoptStation or call 03333 211202.