The next trains to arrive on Blackrod station will be blooming lovely when spring arrives. That’s because they are all planters, made by local students in conjunction with Network Rail, Arm4 and other organisations working on the station refurbishment project.
Students from the POWERWAVE Skills Centre at Rivington and Blackrod High School are making 10 planters in the shape of engines for the station, using materials donated by the local office of Travis Perkins, the building supplies merchant.
When finished, they will be planted with spring bulbs and other flowers and shrubs by volunteers from rail user group the Friends of Blackrod Station.
Network Rail’s principal contractor on the station refurbishment project is Arm4 from Prescot, Merseyside. Jason Mullen, managing director of Arm4 said: “This is a perfect example of what can be achieved when a company like ours joins forces with the local community. I hope the refurbishment will make life easier for those that had difficulty in using the station previously, and that everyone will enjoy the planters in the months to come.”
Not only will the station benefit, but so will two students – with the offer of permanent full time work with Arm4. As well as helping the students on the construction of the planters, Arm4 is to work with POWERWAVE to sponsor a programme of construction based activities in brickwork, joinery, painting and tiling for 10 selected students.
Those that complete the programme will also undertake a first aid course and a construction skills certification scheme before being interviewed by ARM4 with a view to being given permanent work with the company.
As Arm4 work mainly on railway stations in the North of England, Northern Rail has offered tickets to the students who gain employment with Arm4 to enable them to get to work from Blackrod station.
Lee Wasnidge, area director for Northern Rail said: “It’s fantastic to see a partnership such as this working so well in the local community here at Blackrod. Not only will the station environment benefit but we’re also pleased to be able to support local students’ development at POWERWAVE.”
Tony Purcell, head teacher at Rivington and Blackrod High School added: “Arm4 and Network Rail have provided a fantastic opportunity for our young people at the POWERWAVE Skills Centre, and we are really pleased to be working in partnership with all involved in the station refurbishment.
“Our students have thoroughly enjoyed creating the planters for Blackrod station, and to see their planters displayed in the midst of our community is something that we are very proud of.
“We established the POWERWAVE Skills Centre to give young people the skills, knowledge and expertise that they needed to embark upon a career in the construction industry. The opportunity that they now have to gain an apprenticeship with Arm4, and access industry training is invaluable. Thank you to all partners, staff and young people who have been involved in helping our students. “
Gary Tordoff, Network Rails route enhancement manager said “This shows just what people working together can achieve. This partnership has a strong local community context and thanks must go to Simon Fox of Arm4 whose idea this was. Thanks must also go to Travis Perkins and The Friends of Blackrod Station as local input, support and ownership is vital to the wellbeing of the station. Above all thanks to POWERWAVE who have positively engaged in a project that puts them in the spotlight.”
Blackrod station is used by 430,000 passengers a year – up by 50,000 on last year. The refurbishment work and planters will be officially opened on Friday 30 November.