“ Nottingham to Worksop. c/o Central Trains, PO Box 4323, Birmingham B2 4JB „
For years and years, the coalfield areas of West Nottinghamshire and North East Derbyshire have been cut off from nation's railway system. This even included the town of Mansfield which, at the time, held the title of the largest urban area in Britain without a commuter railway station. Much of the line was already there serving the coal mines like Shirebrook and Whitwell. A small 2 mile stretch had to be re-built between Kirkby and Hucknall but the rest was there. Over time, the line has been built up in stages. Stage One linked Nottingham to Newstead, Stage Two ran up to Mansfield Woodhouse and Stage Three completed the line to Worksop. In Summer 1998, amid wild celebration through all the stations on the route, the line was officially opened. Much was hoped. The rail network was non-existant in West Notts until that point. Now in Summer 2001, it has been open for 3 year and there are mixed views amongst travellers. Some who travel during the rush hour down to Nottingham find that the journey is dangerously over crowded and in the aftermath of Selby and Hatfield, did not feel very safe. Off peak or weekends, when I travel to friends in Mansfield, all is fine. There are plenty of seats, the trains are reliable and punctual and clean. Central train has and will continue to invest a lot of money into this line to make it one of the most efficient routes in the UK. Trains run every hour during weekdays between 6am and 10pm and at weekends, once every hour Nottingham-Worksop and half-hour, Nottingham-Mansfield Woodhouse. There is unfortunately no Sunday service. On the route, there is also a special offer where you can travel to certain stations on the Central Trains network from any of the Robin Hood Stations for a mere £10, which is very good value if you compare actual costs. Finally, it has opened up Nottinghamshire to the people who want a quick transit up the county.
Until four years ago Mansfield had the infamous title of being the largest town in England without a railway station. Since the Beeching cutbacks the train line in Mansfield had only been used for freight trains (mainly carrying coal for the local collieries). After a huge investment, involving the re-building of most of the stations and the construction of a new tunnel, the line was re-opened in stages. Now completed the Robin Hood line runs from Nottingham to Worksop (a total of 13 stations) with Mansfield about mid-way along the route. The trains run once an hour in each direction. At peak times and on Saturdays this is every 30 minutes. What is disappointing is that there is no Sunday service. I find this surprising as a lot of the area served by this train line is popular with tourists heading for Sherwood Forest and many other attractions in the area. A big change I would like to see is a later time for the last train each night. Currently the last trains are just after nine o?clock at night and in my opinion this is too early. If you are returning from any distance then the time you have to start your return journey always seems very early. During a recent visit to Manchester we had to leave before six o?clock for our return journey. On the way home the train was delayed and this meant we missed the last train on the Robin Hood line and we had to travel the last fifteen miles home by bus (an additional cost of £7). The service has proved extremely popular and another complaint is that the trains do sometimes get very crowded. We understand that Central Trains (who operate the service) are currently considering purchasing additional trains or extra carriages for the existing trains. If the fares are compared to the equivalent bus journeys in every case they are cheaper and the journey times are always quicker. As well as the standard fares there are a number of saver ticket options and weekly or longer period season
tickets are also available. Provided with each copy of the Robin Hood line timetable is a voucher to purchase two return tickets from any station on the line to a number of specific stations around the country for only £10 each. The destinations include Liverpool, Cardiff, Manchester, Scarborough, Norwich and Cambridge. We have used these offers on a number of occasions for a day?s outing. The stations at Nottingham, Mansfield and Worksop are staffed and have ticket offices, whereas all the other stations are unmanned and tickets are purchased from the conductor on the train. The unmanned stations all have monitors displaying train information and all have CCTV surveillance. All of the stations have car parks, the majority of which are free, and CCTV also covers these. Cycles are carried free of charge on the trains, but there is a limited amount of space for bikes on the trains. At some stations there are secure cycle lockers which are also free of charge. All of the Robin Hood line trains carry ramps to allow access for wheelchairs. The trains are always kept clean and for the majority of the time they are punctual. When the Robin Hood line opened the local people were unsure as to how useful this service would be, but the line has continued to increase in its popularity. A recent addition to the service has been the opening of the restored station buildings at the Mansfield station. As well as the ticket office, waiting room, and toilets there is an electronic travel planner, which is very easy to use. If you are planning a trip in Nottinghamshire and fancy having a rest from driving then I suggest you consider using the Robin Hood line train service.