Before we were formally established, we used to exist under the name of the Marston Vale Railway Development Group. The group, consisting of representatives from local authorities, the rail industry, the rail user group, and local organisations, was set up with the vision of significantly improving passenger rail services. At that time, the conditions on the line left a lot to be desired, with tired rolling stock running on even more tired tracks! This group achieved much in terms of improvement, but the work essentially relying on the good will and hard work of officers in the interested parties. It was always felt that a Community Rail Partnership would the best way of securing a future for the Marston Vale Line.
The group's wish was granted in November 2006, when the Government designated the Marston Vale Line as a Community Rail Service. The Marston Vale Community Rail Partnership was born. The group was then renamed as the Steering Group of the CRP. With a dedicated officer, and funding forthcoming, it is now that the aspirations of the group are being realised. Initial results are encouraging, with a 7% rise in passengers on the line in the CRP's first year. We hope to continue that success into the future!
History of the line
The Marston Vale Line has a long and somewhat turbulent history. The line brought the rail network to the towns and villages of the vale, and was a key part of the Oxford to Cambridge Rail Link. It brought prosperity to the towns that it served, and provided Bedford with its very first railway station (the old St Johns Station). The line also supported the establishment and growth of the brick industry in the vale. The line has also survived several closure threats in the mid to late 20th Century, one of which led to the formation of the Bedford to Bletchley Rail Users Association, as well as significant under-investment. Recent years have been much more positive, with significant investment in stations, the tracks and signalling, as well as us being established! As a result, the future is a lot more promising.
There are several excellent books on the history of the Marston Vale Line, as well as Bedfordshire railways in general. Many of these can be purchased from local bookstores, or hired from the local libraries. Alternatively, you can contact the Bedford to Bletchley Rail Users Association, which has numerous railway history buffs in its membership!