The people of the Isle of Wight are being urged to get behind Sandown this week as it competes in an online poll to be crowned winner of the 2020 World Cup of Stations.
The World Cup of Stations, returning for its second year, will give the people on the Island a chance to cheer on their local station as it competes in the top-flight of social media polling. The competition comes as stations up and down the country welcome more people back to the railway supporting communities and local businesses as Britain continues to learn to live with COVID-19.
The competition will see 48 stations large and small representing each region of the country competing in a series of online polls starting today. Regional and national heats are sure to stoke rivalries. By Friday, the competition will have been whittled down to a final four with one of Britain’s 2,579 railway stations named the nation’s favourite on Friday evening.
A Cinderella story unfolded last year when Huddersfield saw off competition from some of the country’s biggest and busiest stations, including nearby juggernaut Leeds. Sandown will look to repeat the giant-killing trick this year as they start out in the regional group stages.
Sandown begins the competition in the South East group with SWR station Hedge End, along with Aylesbury and Sevenoaks.
The Isle of Wight Community Rail Partnership (CRP) and the Gaslight Café have been an inspiration to the Island’s community. As stories emerged of some people on the Island struggling to cope financially and to put food on the table, the partnership agreed with SWR to help fund Food on the Move. This brilliant initiative has prevented many vulnerable people going hungry during the current COVID-19 crisis.
Tony King, South Western Railway’s Flagship Station Manager for the Island, said:
“We can go far and we could even have the competition sewn up, with the support of our fans. It’s all to play for this year we just need to make sure that everything is left on the pitch.
“It’s been a tough year, and Sandown has been the focal point for many who’ve needed help during this crisis. Uniquely, the station has played a key role in keeping the local vulnerable people fed, with station staff and the local CRP really going above and beyond. These community champions richly deserve some recognition for their efforts.”
“We’re small but mighty, so let’s make the Island proud and win this competition!”
Robert Nisbet, Director of Nations and Regions for the Rail Delivery Group, which is organising the competition said:
“The World Cup of Stations is about celebrating the thousands of stations across the country many of which have been at the heart of their communities for more than a century. It’s also about recognising the friendly local faces who have kept key workers moving throughout the pandemic.
“As Britain gets moving again, their role in supporting local businesses and spreading opportunity is more important than ever.”
Post-match analysis will take place at the conclusion of each day of voting led by a bevy of railway experts and station enthusiasts.
Historian and presenter of UKTV’s “The Architecture The Railways Built” Tim Dunn said,
“Station-fans, assemble: it’s time to do battle. Pick your station but pick it well – ‘cause this is a game of 48 sides and 200+ platforms, yet only one can return triumphant and take home that much-coveted trophy. Your local station squad needs you – so don’t stand silent in the sidings, get out of that waiting room and cheer loud on social media platforms.
“My tip for chuffing to the top of the championships is old-timer Glasgow Queen Street – back on the pitch with a new spring in its step for 2020.”