Wednesday, 7 August 2013

York to Knaresborough: Marketing A Branch Line

With renewed interest in revitalising the services on the Knaresborough to York railway line in North Yorkshire currently in the air, I present the following ruminations on how the service might be promoted...

‘Ouse-Nidd Express’
I don’t think so.  The name will not catch on…
But ‘market’ it, let people know!
“It’s central Yorkshire’s way to go”!

“Trans-Vale Executive - every day
with Business Class from Stray to Stray’!

‘Ouse-Nidd’?  ‘Nidd-Ouse’?
(The men peruse…)
It’s got to have a ‘hook’,
A selling aspect, profile plus,
It’s there if we just look.

Okay, airlines might not lose out
And freight, that’s not its line
But competition must be more
Than just ‘A59’.

Well, other aspects - something else?
Vacation angle, p’raps…
And heritage means revenue -
West Highland, Settle - Carlisle too;
Just look at tourist maps.

“Gothic splendour to the East -
A verdant gorge for eyes to feast
On to the West, then Yorkshire Dales
Rising up…”

Beyond these rails…

Because this is here.  They're miles away

Far beyond the green and grey
Of fields.  That’s all.  Of pigs and cows
Who hear the train, look up and browse,
Like central Ireland, a Polish spring.
It’s the grass round here that’s interesting.

‘Knaresborough - York’:
What can it mean?
What lurks unheard of in between?
Awesome vistas? Mountain ranges?
Orange-groved old-English granges?

None of this.  No ‘selling’ factors.
Pig Sheds.
Broken tractors.

No litany of exotic venues, this
No over-familiar names.
But quirky charm you cannot miss
A place of farms, not fame.


It doesn’t even go from A to B but rather K to Y
In ‘ordinary’ railway style.
Lacklustre.  Plain.  Awry.
Does it encapsulate a time
When society really cared?
Or is it just a weary branch line that stayed because it’s there?

No portentous statement of an era
Bringing far-off places nearer
Just stations from which you… start.

Where semaphore and crossing gate
Bear testament to endless wait
For 150s that squeak and grate.

Which way does it come? Will it be late?
An emptiness that makes you dizzy.
Can this line be ever busy?

Yet, once aboard, in cosy heat
On blue veloured and comfy seat -
Was that a bridge?
I mustn’t blink -
That might have been some points I think.

And fishplates clack on single track
Where rusty ballast brown and old
Spills down the bank to rabbit holes
Punctuating telegraph poles…

But level, flat?
I’ll grant you that.

Tedious - but it has connections.
‘Glamour’s just a change away’.

People forget that railways are
A means to reach an end.
So forget ‘romantic’, forget the twee;
It’s a railway line for you and me
To travel when we want to be
Elsewhere.  At ease.  Without a care.

A simple route.  To take us there.

The country should be criss-crossed
With routes as plain as this.
And if we had them, then we’d use them
And we’d give the car a miss.
Different people every journey.
An opportunity to learn,
You do the crossword, read a book,
Give the River Nidd a look.
The sights to see, the smells, the sound -
Become aware of the world around.

Therefore this rural ramble becomes a journey of the mind.
That is what you’ll find.

So there.

Now recount on what we’ve said:
The way our verbal journey lead
Subjectively from A to Z,
And how many things we’ve found to talk
About the Knaresborough line to York

Which, as a line, it works just fine
Connecting Y to K.
A simple link,
Offering time to think.

I hope it stays that way.

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