Bold new plan to improve public transport in Northamptonshire put together by 14-year-old schoolboy

'It's a lot of work but hopefully it will pay off'

Tuesday, 29th September 2020, 4:09 pm
Updated Tuesday, 29th September 2020, 4:12 pm

A teenager has expanded his hopes to revive his village's train station into a broad plan to improve public transport in Northamptonshire.

Harry Burr has come up with a concept for two new railway lines from Northampton to Banbury and Leamington Spa having started a campaign to rebuild the station in Weedon Bec.

Daventry, Towcester, Silverstone, Brackley and Southam in Warwickshire would all get stations too as well as a new 'Northampton Parkway' station in Upton in the 14-year-old's bold proposal.

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Harry Burr, 14

He does not want his campaign to just focus on trains either, with buses, cycling, canals and even trams on his radar through his campaign group Sustainable Transport Northamptonshire.

"I think it would be quite a positive for not just Weedon and Daventry but also the big towns as they get a link to each other," Harry explained.

"It's ridiculous that if you want to go from Northampton to Banbury you have to go up to Coventry then back down to Banbury - it's stupid to go up then down but this plan would avoid that."

Before moving to Weedon in 2013, Harry lived in Kent where there are a plethora of train stations compared to Northamptonshire.

How Weedon Bec railway station used to look before it was demolished. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

According to his research during the lockdown, Daventry is one of the biggest towns in the country without a railway link while the other station-less areas could benefit from better connectivity.

The teen also believes new railways would help councils and the government reach their environmental goals by getting more cars off the roads.

"The most important thing with this project is the environment, being eco-friendly and not using carbon emissions," he said.

"If the authorities wants to get to that zero emissions promise by 2050 then they have to make Northamptonshire more connected as everyone has a car because of the lack of public transport."

Northampton passengers could get a direct train to Silverstone or Daventry under Harry Burr's proposal

Harry has spent many hours researching his plan, plotting the potential route on Google Earth and figuring out how it will all work and fit into the existing network.

Much of it would use the old railway lines and stations which were demolished in the 1960s under the Beeching cuts although some new infrastructure would still be required.

The 'Northampton Parkway' station would be needed in the Upton area to take pressure off the town centre station although part of the country park would be needed.

The new lines would mostly follow the main roads like the A43 and A425 to 'minimise destruction' while the new stations would ideally be close to the town centres.

How Brackley railway station used to look. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Silverstone station would serve the circuit to make that more accessible for racing fans and Weedon's station would become an interchange with lots of lines running through it.

"It's a lot of work but hopefully it will pay off. I will probably have issues with the villages but that's the same with every infrastructure project," he said.

"They may be annoyed to build the station on someone's land but you can't build them in the middle of nowhere."

Harry has written a white paper on the subject as well as hosting several websites for the project, while he thinks the millions of pounds needed to build it would be made back in the boost to the local economy.

He also plans to lobby all the MPs whose constituencies the lines would affect to get their support too and has launched a survey.

Harry knows full well it is not up to him whether a new railway is built or not but believes he can make a difference by putting in the work and campaigning.

How Towcester railway station used to look. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The teen has received both positive and negative feedback on social media and when trying to talk to people in the know about his idea but is not put off by his age.

"I know it's not going to be built in the next year or anything as it's a major one, not as big as HS2," he said.

"It's quite a new thing but it's just a concept and I will campaign for it to happen but I can't make any promises.

"Some may think why am I bothering and I hate to hear things like that but people are like that I suppose.

"But I have had supportive messages too on social media and help from others - if I wasn't here then this wouldn't be happening at all."

The Sponne School pupil launched his campaign during the lockdown having found plenty of time on his hands but now he has gone back to school, he is finding it harder to do both.

"I've spoken to teachers at schools about it as so much is on my mind right now - sometimes I need to remember this isn't the most important thing, which is my education," he said.

"So it's quite a stressful time and I'm trying to get the work-school balance right but I don't think it's affecting me mentally much but there are worse things I could be doing.

"This is more productive than gaming or whatever, I've never been a big fan of that sort of thing.

"I know not every 14-year-old thinks like this but for some reason I do - I think it's good thing, I'm trying to change the county and make a difference."