Rail campaign success for Derbyshire local magazine

A free local magazine in Derbyshire is celebrating a campaign success after it spearheaded a petition for better rail services.

The monthly glossy Dronfield Eye, which is distributed to 15,000 homes, launched its campaign two years ago. Although around 140 trains pass through Dronfield each day, only 10 stop to pick up passengers.

The town and its surrounding villages, which have a population of around 30,000, can now look forward to an improved service.

Dronfield Eye editor Mike Firth, a journalist in the area for more than 30 years, said: ‘We did a piece in the magazine saying a new timetable had come out and there were all these places you could get to but couldn’t get back from.

‘One of our readers highlighted some more anomalies and before we knew it we had people saying we should launch a campaign.”

The campaign was picked up by Member of Parliament for North-east Derbyshire MP Natascha Engel, who called a public meeting which led to the formation of two campaigning organisations.

Railways minister Tom Harris last week informed Dronfield Eye and its readers that the fight was successful. From later this year, the town can expect a minimum hourly service throughout the day, with 35 trains a day scheduled to stop at the station.

The campaign was supported by Green Party members on Sheffield City Council, who wrote a letter of support to the magazine.

Dronfield Eye was launched two-and-a-half years ago by Heron Publications, which has another local magazine, Active8, in Sheffield.

Firth, who started his career on the Derby Times, is the only journalist working on the magazine.

He said: ‘Our magazines are a little bit different [to many other local magazines]. Because I’m a trained news journalist, they are like news magazines, with news features.

‘We do have a bit of lifestyle, but rather than bland features about fashion, property, motors and thing people can’t afford, we tend to make them relate to the local area and get in lots of stories about local people and local organisations. The local community have really taken them to heart.”

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