Really positive meeting last week at Hexham station. A great job done by the Community Rail Partnership who organised the meeting. They do a great job to organise, cajole and make the case for real change - which we all agree we need.
So it was that we heard from Northern, Network Rail, the providers of train security, and the British Transport Police themselves. A few words to explain the updates given and to laud the efforts of everyone involved.
Pete Myers made a passionate case on behalf of Northern as to the plans since April 2016 for new trains with wifi, better seating, better engines and a better timetable. He talked of station improvements, and the mantra of 4 big changes over 44 months. Subsequently, we also had a really positive discussion about Gilsland Station and our long term plans there. Pete's enthusiasm and pride in his network was palpable.
Network Rail gave us the full lowdown on the massive reconstruction job they performed at Farnley after the landslip of 50,000 tons of earth and trees on to the line.
And we heard from the team of crime reduction officers on the line. Many remember the difficulties encountered on Friday and Saturday nights when there were staffing and rota issues, and simply a lack of staff. Where previously there were barely 20 officers covering the whole of Northern's network, there will now be 55, and quite clearly there is a better working relationship between the police in both Newcastle and Carlisle and the crime reduction officers.
You could not fail to leave without feeling much more optimistic about our local train system.