WINCHELSEA rail users have formed a special group to adopt and protect their station.
In December rail campaigners won their long running fight to get an improved stopping service at Winchelsea.
Now they say the newly revitalised station is helping to boost the town’s local economy by bringing in more visitors.
The Winchelsea Station partnership group has been set up with the help of the Sussex Community Rail Partnership and the scheme is proving very popular.
Sam Bryant, senior development officer of Sussex Community Rail Partnership, said: “The idea of the scheme is voluntary community action at stations which improve the environment of the station over and above that which is statutory or can be done by Southern.
“This is a very locally focused scheme with local people saying what they want to see at their station and making it happen.
“In the case of Winchelsea the planters, community art work and clearing work is what the group wanted to see done at the station. And they have done a fantastic job.
“Winchelsea is a rare station in that it also has two Network Rail Community Scheme which are similar to the Southern Scheme but operate in agreed areas of Network Rail’s private ‘off station’ areas.
“With Winchelsea and Three Oaks we are now working to encourage people back to those stations so that the new two hourly services is as well used as possible. Therefore strengthening the position of those services.
“At Winchelsea we have already had one guided cellar tour and are now taking bookings for the second on March 26. We also have two further walks from the station planned for June and July.
“We are calling all walking groups and inviting them to start walking in the area again, something which has been very difficult with the reduced service over the last five years.
“We also want to remind local, national and international visitors that these are wonderful places to explore and will use our website www.sussexcrp.org to promote events and walking routes
“We are grateful for Southern’s efforts which mean we can put both locations back on the tourist map and really want to shout about the opportunities to travel into and out of Winchelsea and Three Oaks by train.”
Winchelsea resident and rail campaigner John Spencer said: “The Winchelsea Station Adoption Group started when it became apparent that to get the trains back, our case might be helped if we took an interest in maintaining the Station itself.
“Southern have been very supportive and so have Network Rail.
“We have 12 members who have helped keep four large “planters” looking good, especially for passing rail passengers.
“We clear excess vegetation and keep an eye on the station. And in the summer we do a lot of watering which means getting containers from Winchelsea Town.
“There are two main working parties per year.”