Train operator Grand Central is seeking volunteers to become “ambassadors” to give passengers a right good Yorkshire welcome at Mirfield station.
The company, which runs trains between Bradford and London King’s Cross via Low Moor, Halifax, Brighouse, Mirfield, Wakefield Kirkgate, Pontefract Monkhill and Doncaster stations, pioneered its ambassador programme in the north east at Hartlepool and Eaglescliffe stations before introducing it at Brighouse station in 2014.
Now more than 60 station ambassadors work with the company to answer passenger queries and provide them with a friendly welcome to the towns along Grand Central’s North East and West Riding routes.
David Bedding, who joined the Brighouse ambassadors group four years ago, said: “I’d moved to the area and a friend of mine saw a note saying that Grand Central were looking for volunteers. I applied and I was one of the founding batch of ambassadors.”
The 12-strong team at Brighouse is still in place. All its members are also part of the Friends of Brighouse Station group.
The unmanned Brighouse station sends four Grand Central trains a day. On Sundays, half an hour before the train is due to depart for London, ambassadors are on the platform talking to passengers, answering any questions and assisting where possible.
Said David: “If things are going to go wrong they go wrong on a Sunday – but that also happens to be a big leisure travel day so we’re on hand to make sure everyone feels looked after.”
The ambassadors also help people coming to the station to get the best from the town.
“We get people coming from London needing to be pointed in the right direction,” said David. “It’s about being able to enhance the travel experience both ways.
“On one occasion a couple of us rushed down because there had been a cancellation. There were around 10 people waiting on the platform quite miffed, but by the time they left they were smiling and waving.”
Paul Stevenson, Grand Central’s ambassador coordinator, said: “Volunteering on the railway gives our ambassadors a sense of belonging both to the company and the locality. They are doing something towards a green agenda, encouraging rail travel and because GC’s reputation is good they can take pride in being part of an industry leader.”
Sean English, chief operating officer, said local business owners had got involved in the scheme because having a direct rail link to London gave them a platform to promote their town and the region.
He said it was hoped that the same enthusiasm and passion could be replicated in Mirfield.
To volunteer at Mirfield station, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org