A GROUP of Winnersh residents are pitching in to help keep their community clean.
The Winnersh Sustainable Transport Group has become a member of the Community Rail Network, and has ‘adopted’ Winnersh and Winnersh Triangle Stations.
The group, led by Paul Fishwick, leader of Winnersh Parish Council and borough ward councillor for Winnersh, has been working with Network Rail since April 2020 in a bid to keep the stations tidy.
Now, thanks to the new partnership, the transport group will begin work on improving the look and feel of the stations and tracks.
“These stations are important gateways to Winnersh,” Cllr Fishwick said. “We’re determined to help ensure they’re kept clean, safe and attractive for commuters, residents and visitors.
“The Parish Council sees rail as a key mode of sustainable travel to and from the area, and it will be an important asset when tackling climate change.”
As a member of the Community Rail Network, Cllr Fishwick hopes the group can “raise the profile” of Winnersh’s train stations to encourage Network Rail to clear trackside litter and graffiti.
“It cannot be cleared by anyone except Network Rail,” he explained. “They’ve scheduled to clear the litter and graffiti later this month which we really appreciate.
“Moving forward, I hope that with these stations formally adopted, Winnersh can be classed as a higher priority location.”
Chris Denham, a spokesperson for Network Rail, said graffiti and litter are a “real menace” for the railway.
“Clearing them both up costs time and money we’d rather be spending on passengers,” he said. “But we know how important a clean and tidy railway is to people, so we’re always keen to know of hotspots and areas that need attention.
“I’m pleased to say that we are working closely with those at Winnersh to get this sorted, with permission to access the track booked soon.”
The Winnersh Sustainable Transport Group is also working with local charity CLASP and Forest School to bring some artwork on board.
“The shelters are in poor condition, so we’d love to upgrade them with some community artwork,” Cllr Fishwick said.
CLASP and Forest School have since been asked to create designs for the station shelters.
Debs Morrison, manager of CLASP, said the charity hopes its artwork will encourage the public to use the railways and illustrate their travels.
“CLASP members love transport,” she explained. “It is a passion of theirs.
“One of our members has visited more than 1,000 stations in the UK and wants to see them all.
“Another travels to railway and bus stations to take part in community engagement projects, so taking part seemed like a natural and inspiring fit.”
Bernadette Mitra, Conservative prospective candidate for Winnersh in May’s local elections, said graffiti is “a blight on Winnersh” and she is happy to see the parish council adopt the two stations.
“I’m looking forward to them engaging with the community to establish the priorities of what needs to be done,” she said. “The addition of artwork is a commendable gesture.”
Ms Mitra said she wants to see Winnersh Parish Council prioritise “long-standing issues” of litter, graffiti and antisocial behaviour.
“I’ll gladly work alongside [them] to achieve these objectives,” she added. “It affects our house prices, our mental wellbeing and it’s costly to remove.”
Cllr Fishwick said the parish council is aware graffiti can attract more graffiti, and hopes that with the new partnership, it can be nipped in the bud.
“It’s the same with litter too, and this is something we’ve been speaking to Network Rail about,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the stations cleared up, and hopefully people will respect them even more in the future.