Supported by funding from train operator CrossCountry, North Staffordshire Community Rail Partnership have been able to transform the experience of people using the train station at Longport.
The secluded station in Stoke-on Trent previously had no shelter from the weather or facilities such as toilets. Now the concerted efforts of the local community partnership have created the Waiting Room Gallery – a dedicated community hub offering shelter and facilities for train users and promoting activities and events in the local area.
Although work was initially delayed because of the pandemic, the project is now complete. The new accommodation will promote sustainable, healthy and accessible travel by welcoming passengers waiting on Longport station into a dry sheltered environment. As well as supporting the local businesses it also brings communities together, supporting diversity and inclusion by reaching out to local groups providing free events and activities.
Baby changing facilities have been introduced and the toilets improved to be more accessible for disabled customers. The rooms have been redecorated and now have Wi-Fi available, and is already a success with commuters calling in to use the toilets or grab a hot drink getting to see a friendly face.
Other community-based projects such as packs for half term and assistance to the local food bank have remained open where possible, including the popular garden club. And outside the station, volunteers have used their skills to brighten up the entrance by adding turf and wildflowers.
In total there have been over 600 volunteer hours dedicated to this project. Middleport Matters community group have been undertaking regular litter picks to make the area look cleaner for visitors to attract them to the businesses in the area.
Local artists and groups are booking exhibitions with Keele University hosting their ‘Three Counties’ photography exhibit in August.
North Staffs CRP still have groups they are looking to include in the future including Tai Chi, a Cine Club and links with other local stations.