26 February 2009

Corby's new London train

At 0637 on Tuesday, the first direct train service for over 40 years to leave Corby bound for central London left the town's brand new rail station.

Corby's first rail station was built in 1879 and initially named Weldon & Corby, ostensibly to serve these then small villages. Services grew as a result of the town's steelworks, with the line being mainly used to bring in ironstone, coke and limestone from the nation's quarries. At the same time the mass migration of Scottish steelworkers to Corby was aided by the railway.

However, falling fowl of Dr. Beeching, the station closed in 1967 - although a brief revival took place during the 80s thanks to fundraising by local campaigners, although the service provided did not offer any direct long-distance journeys. By 1990 the funding was used-up and not replaced and so the station closed again.

Corby's new station is built on adjacent land to the old one and is the result of a campaign started in 1998, bearing fruit in June 2007 when the go-ahead was given for its construction. It is maintained by East Midlands Trains, who is the operator of the station's current solitary service.

Around 80 people boarded the Class 222 'Voyager' service on Tuesday at 0637 bound for London St. Pancras International, though many of whom alighted at the following stop, Kettering, no doubt their intention being to have been a part of the maiden voyage(r).

East Midlands Trains' managing director Tim Shoveller said that only one further Voyager train is needed to enable the company to provide an hourly service on the line. The trains are being cascaded from First Hull Trains, who are in turn receiving Class 180 'Adelantes'.

The new Corby station is another impressive milestone in the history of railways in the British Isles. There's something moving to be part of a new rail line or rail link. It's something that we both felt strongly about in December, when we were privileged to travel aboard another historic East Midlands Trains service, offering a direct link between Lincoln and London King's Cross. (GL)