Rail User Group & Station Volunteers jointly support The Shakespeare Line

A long-standing rail passenger group that speaks up for people that use train services between Birmingham and Stratford upon Avon and Leamington Spa and Stratford upon Avon is changing its name and, at the same time, a new brand will be launched to promote leisure-based rail travel along the route while also highlighting the train service to encourage more local people to use the train.

For over fifty years, users of the railway line between Birmingham and Stratford upon Avon have been represented by a Rail User Group, initially known as the North Warwickshire Line Defence Committee; it was formed to save the railway line from proposed closure in 1969

Following a second attempt to close the line in 1984, the group was renamed the Shakespeare Line Promotion Group as it focused on encouraging greater usage of the train service. 

In the future, the group will be known as the Shakespeare Line Rail User Group (SLRUG). The decision to change the name has arisen from the much greater interest and involvement with the line by people from the local communities it serves.

In 2020 when the Covid pandemic hit the country, the group sought to connect with the communities served by the railway line. The results from this engagement exceeded expectations. Within six months, over 70 volunteers had stepped forward, with volunteers adopting all 20 railway stations between Stratford upon Avon and Birmingham.

The Friends of the Shakespeare Line was formed as a separate and wholly voluntary organisation to support the volunteers at all the stations along the route. Six voluntary trustees manage and operate what is a Community Station Partnership. The purpose is to attract funding and to support the volunteers at each station without the volunteers needing to become involved in filling out paperwork or paying to join organisations to obtain funding.  

Under a new route brand, “The Shakespeare Line”, users of the line and individuals can now decide the level of their involvement and participation. They can join SLRUG as a member with an annual subscription of £5, and/or they can volunteer at a station with Friends of the Shakespeare Line. 

Peter Morris, the Chair of SLRUG, says, “These changes have been made to simplify things for people. We want people who use train services and individuals to consider joining us as we speak up for train service users and contribute towards ensuring local plans include adequate investment from development towards better and enhanced transport infrastructure. The more members we have, the more influence and leverage we can use on behalf of train service users.”

Fraser Pithie, Chair of Friends of the Shakespeare Line, commented, “These changes make things more straightforward with a distinction between the Rail User Group and a Station Volunteer Partnership. Both organisations respectively work to benefit users, communities and indeed the railway sector along the railway route and, by doing so, support the new route brand “The Shakespeare Line”.   

More information about SLRUG and how to become a member can be found here.

More information about Friends of the Shakespeare Line and how to volunteer at one of the Shakespeare Line stations can be found here.