- This week the British public will vote for their favourite railway station in the World Cup of Stations 2020
- Bedford has made the shortlist of 48 stations which will compete head to head in the online poll
- Stations and staff have been playing a key role supporting Britain’s recovery from COVID-19
- Bedford will face competition from East region rivals Kempston Hardwick
The people of Bedford are being urged to get behind their biggest station this week as it competes in an online poll to be crowned winner of the 2020 World Cup of Stations.
With sports fans having been denied their usual fix during much of the Covid-19 pandemic, the World Cup of Stations, returning for its second year, will give people a chance to cheer on their local station as it competes in the top-flight of social media polling.
The competition will see 48 stations, large and small, representing each region of the country competing in a series of online polls starting today (Monday, October 12). Regional and national heats are sure to stoke rivalries. By Friday, the competition will have been whittled down to a final four with one of Britain’s 2,579 railway stations named the nation’s favourite on Friday evening.
A Cinderella story unfolded last year when Huddersfield saw off competition from some of the country’s biggest and busiest stations, including nearby juggernaut Leeds. Bedford will be looking to ensure no such upset happens this year when they make their first outing in the regional group stages against local minnows Kempston Hardwick.
Bernie Lee, Thameslink’s Station Manager at Bedford said: “We have to respect Kempston Hardwick for getting this far but we know that we’ll create enough chances to come out on top. And our close relationship with our fans, who are part of what make us a great station, means we can go a long way in this cup.”
The competition comes as stations up and down the country welcome more people back to the railway, supporting communities and local businesses as Britain continues to learn to live with Covid-19. Station staff are working hard to ensure stations can play their full role supporting Britain’s recovery from Covid, keeping people connected and boosting regional economies.
Robert Nisbet, Director of Nations and Regions for the Rail Delivery Group, which is organising the competition said: “The World Cup of Stations is about celebrating the thousands of stations across the country, many of which have been at the heart of their communities for more than a century. It’s also about recognising the friendly local faces who have kept key workers moving throughout the pandemic. As Britain gets moving again, their role in supporting local businesses and spreading opportunity is more important than ever.”
Bernie’s Bedford squad and back-room staff at Midland Road are all focussed on ensuring fans can travel with confidence during the Covid-19 pandemic, with an intensive cleaning regime, encouraging face-covering, and social distance surgeries (in collaboration with Sustrans and the British Transport Police) that build confidence as passengers return to public transport. The team has also been supporting the wider local community during these difficult times, setting up a highly successful collection point for foodbanks, decorating the station with schoolchildren’s lockdown artwork, and completing a 50-kilometre cycle and walking challenge that raised £1,600 for Autism Bedfordshire.
The squad is further increasing its strength in depth this season with new cycle security measures, toilet improvements and another platform shelter, all part of Govia Thameslink Railway’s multimillion-pound ‘Improving Your Station’ programme. Many of the 1,000-plus projects, at over 250 stations, were suggested by local passengers and communities.
Post-match analysis will take place at the end of each day of voting, led by a bevy of railway experts and station enthusiasts.
Historian and presenter of UKTV’s ‘The Architecture The Railways Built’ Tim Dunn said: “Station-fans, assemble: it’s time to do battle. Pick your station but pick it well – because this is a game of 48 sides and 200+ platforms, yet only one can return triumphant and take home that much-coveted trophy. Your local station squad needs you – so don’t stand silent in the sidings, get out of that waiting room and cheer loud on social media platforms. My tip for chuffing to the top of the championships is old-timer Glasgow Queen Street – back on the pitch with a new spring in its step for 2020.”
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