If you have heard that your train is in danger of having its service reduced, you’ll have to act quickly in order to have the best chance of influencing events.
By the time you’ve heard about the possible cut, the decision will have been discussed for some time, because changes to timetables and service levels involve complex, behind-the-scenes discussions:
It's unlikely that you'll be able to influence these early processes that resulted in cuts having been proposed (although there is some scope to influence route utilisation strategies that haven't yet been finalised). Your efforts should be focused on making the proposed cut so unpopular so that the decision-makers decide not to go ahead with it.
It’s a big task, but stations and services have been saved.
The photo above shows a campaigner from Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways.
"The most important thing to remember if you wish to fight proposed cuts to your train service is to do as much research as possible. If your case is accurate, persuasive and well-presented, then you have more chance of being taken seriously, even if you are completely new to campaigning."
~ Lee Fletcher, Canber
Your strategy should be to get as many people as possible to pressure Network Rail, the train operator, the Department for Transport and the county council to keep the service going or the station open. The more noise you make the better:
- Find out what other local and national organisations are doing and work together -- contact your local rail users group, RailFuture, Passenger Focus, the union RMT and your passenger transport executive, if your area has one.
- Find other community groups fighting rail cuts elsewhere. They may be able to offer you some advice.
- Publicise the proposals as widely as possible, through email discussion lists and local websites and media.
- Hand out leaflets at the station, alerting people to the threat and getting their support. Ask them to sign a petition and to complain to the train operator.
- Organise a public meeting and invite Network rail, your MP and your train operator. Publicise the meeting it at your local station and in the press.
- Ask your local newspaper to start a campaign to save the service.
Good idea: Nottinghamshire Campaign for Better Transport stopped a commuter train from being cut. The group started by asking passengers to write to the train company. "The company was oblivious to customers' needs. Highlighting how the service cut affected passengers sent out a very strong message," says David, who has shared the full story of his success with us
- Get a strong delegation of concerned people together and meet with the train operator to discuss your concern and to put forward proposals for saving the service. Passenger Focus’s website will tell you who runs your train service.
- Write to or meet with your local councillor, outline your concerns and ask that the council write to your MP and to Network Rail opposing the cut.
- Lobby your MP, making sure she is aware of the strength of feeling on the issue, and ask him or her to make representations to Network rail and the Transport Secretary.
- Get as many people as possible to contact the MP to ask him or her to make representation to Network Rail and the Secretary of State.
- Ask your MP to organise a parliamentary debate about the issue.
- Ask your MP to table a parliamentary petition.
Have you campaigned to stop a service cut? Please let us know about the experience so we can share your advice.
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