SENRUG - the group that campaigns for better rail services in South East and East Northumberland – has recently scooped four separate Rail User Group Awards.
The community group, which received a grant from Blyth Town Council in 2019, is best known for the campaign for the Northumberland Line – the new passenger railway connecting Newcastle to Ashington.
The group is delighted to have received the awards from Railfuture, the national voluntary campaign group calling for a bigger and better railway.
First up was Joint Gold for Best Newsletter, given to SENRUG Newsletter Editor Dave Shaw. The group also won Joint Silver for Best Website and another Joint Silver for Best Campaign. On top of this, SENRUG Chair Dennis Fancett, who last year won the Rail Campaigner of the Year Award, has this year been awarded Joint Silver for Best Campaigner.
The awards were presented by Railfuture North East Branch Chair Keith Simpson, at Seaton Delaval, with the new Northumberland Line railway station visible in the background. "It is a delight to come here today and present these awards whilst seeing the Northumberland Line construction work taking place first-hand," said Keith. "Congratulations to Dennis and Dave and the entire team at SENRUG, who are an example to other campaigning groups around the country".
Roger Blake, a Director of Railfuture and organiser of the annual Awards for Rail User Groups, added: "SENRUG epitomises all the qualities which are so essential for local rail campaign groups - persistence, patience, persuasion, pragmatism and professionalism, to name but a few. We are aware that whilst its premier campaign – the Northumberland Line – is now coming within sight of physical completion, their other activities such as seeking to improve services at Cramlington, campaigning for a Newcastle to Berwick local service, and fighting proposed cuts in long-distance trains at Morpeth all carry weight and are increasingly recognised on the national stage".
Receiving his award for Best Campaigner, SENRUG Chair Dennis Fancett commented, "it's pleasing to know what we do here in Northumberland is recognised. When we first launched our campaign for The Northumberland line some 19 years ago – in those days known as the Ashington Blyth & Tyne line – it was hard to be taken seriously. Everyone said it could never happen. But we stuck with it, diligently presenting our arguments to influencers from the different stakeholder groups. Now, at last, the line is finally being built – with the expectation that the first trains will be running late next year. Never let anyone tell you that campaigning from volunteer groups like ours will not pay off".
"But we are not stopping here. We have plans for further extensions for the Northumberland line, which we are already discussing with the local authority, and neither are we neglecting the need to protect and develop the services on South and East Northumberland's existing rail routes."
The group is urging those that support their objectives to join them via their website at www.senrug.co.uk.
SENRUG received funding from Blyth Town Council in 2019 for core operational costs, including developing its Website and Newsletter. Blyth Town Council would like to thank them for their kind email regarding the Council's support and congratulate them on an excellent campaign and their well-deserved awards.
Photos by Dave Shaw
Photo 1 - “Railfuture NE Branch Chair presents SENRUG’s Dave Shaw with the Best Newsletter Award”
Photo 2 - "SENRUG Chair Dennis Fancett collects the Railfuture awards, at Seaton Delaval station site"