This is a line which runs from Gainsborough to Barnetby, providing a reasonably direct route from Sheffield to Cleethorpes. However, it only gets passenger services on a Saturday*. This leads to very low annual patronages for the 3 stations on the route: Brigg, Kirton Lindsey and Gainsborough Central. Brigg has the highest of the 3, with ~1700 passengers last year. The other two have patronages below the 1000 mark, although Gainsborough Central has an additional 200 “interchanges” (probably people who walk to the station in the centre of town, look at the timetable, sigh, and then have to walk for a mile or so to Lea Road, which has more trains but is located outside Gainsborough).
Three trains each way run on Saturday between Sheffield and Cleethorpes via Brigg, so it is possible to visit all three stations in one go, and travel to and from Edinburgh. This is what I did.
*Gainsborough Central, the first station on the line, now has services every day since the May 2019 timetable change. I visited the stations the day before the timetable change.
My first station to visit was Kirton Lindsey, the station with the lowest patronage of the three, at fewer than 300 passengers per year. My train from Edinburgh was early, but not extreme, so I was almost awake as it spun through Northumberland and Yorkshire to York. At York, I had my first change. This train would take me the 20 minutes to Doncaster. A man sat opposite me, and started eating what I can only describe as processed baby sick (milky and lumpy) on which he drizzled something dark and red. Doncaster approached (because the town of Doncaster is now mobile) and I alighted and the station, switched platforms, and boarded the train to Barnetby.
Barnetby station has 4 platforms but a lack of passenger services. A lot of freight passes through, as I saw.
Shortly afterwards, my train to Kirton Lindsey arrived. It was some form of refurbished Pacer (bus on train wheels), and it trundled along through the Lincolnshire countryside. The Brigg Line is very much a trundle-y line, the sort of railway that Ian Hislop would travel down during a documentary on Dr. Beeching. Brigg station comes first, followed by Kirton Lindsey 10 minutes later. None of the stations are request stops, so, as the train screeched to a halt, I could walk to a door of my choice and leave, giving a wave to the conductor.
Kirton Lindsey is a single platform station located next to an industrial estate near the town of Kirton-in-Lindsey. It continues the tradition established that railway stations don't quite have the same name as the place where they are.
The facilities are fairly basic: there is a shelter, a bin, some signs, a bench and a car park. Lights also exist, but they weren't on when I was around, because it was daytime. The old station building, like so many others, is now a private house.
I took a stroll out of the industrial estate to an A road, where there was a big sign showing the existence of the station. I only had an hour, so I decided not to venture further. Returning to the station, I experimented with different lighting levels before my train to the second station of the day arrived.
The most well-used station on the line, Brigg has two platforms. When I had passed through it the first time, there had been a reasonable number of people boarding. This time, I was the only one to get on or off the train.
Brigg station has 2 platforms linked by a footbridge. On one side of the station is a big car park and the town, and the other is surrounded by fields. Each platform has a shelter, signs and a bin. The town-side platform also has a BT payphone.
With 2 hours before the next train, I decided to take a walk into and around the town. After a 30 minute stroll around the central area, I bought some chips from the local chippy. “There's a lot of aspects about a town that one can gain from visiting the chippy” is the kind of bollocks that some travel writers come up with. I try not to, because I find that sort of vacuous rubbish screamingly tedious. The only thing one can gain from a chippy is obesity if one visits too often.
Back at the station, the wildlife was coming out. A pony was wandering around the yard by the station, and a number of rabbits were scampering along the outer platform.
After I had eaten my chips, my train to Gainsborough arrived, along with more bunny action.
Bunny action aside, I had a train to catch. It went back through Kirton Lindsey, where a man got off, took a picture, and then got back off (bastard), and then Gainsborough Central. None of the trains had kept time particularly well, and we were 15 minutes late when I got off at Gainsborough Central. It is the most modern of the three stations, with more facilities, step free access, a bin which actually had rubbish in, multiple signs, and a socking great car park for a nearby shopping area. The semaphore signals and signal box keeps the slightly disused/old feel.
40 minutes later, another service back to Barnetby and Cleethorpes approached. I didn't board it, but took a picture. It was early, and some people were waiting for it on the wrong platform. They hurried across when they realised it was the Cleethorpes train.
As mentioned (in passing) earlier, Gainsborough has a second, much better used station. This is Lea Road, which is a mile from Central. I did this walk, noting the roundabout, dual carriageway and small residential street which was the route between the two stations.
As I waited for the train to Sheffield (where I could then get back to Edinburgh), another member of the “confused people in Gainsborough” community, who wanted to know what platform the train to Lincoln departed on. It was the other platform, and it had departed 5 minutes ago, with the electronic announcement speaking of the stopping point of “Sexilby” (there is a station called Saxilby between Gainsborough and Lincoln).
I'm surprised at the patronage for Brigg station. With trains for only 1 day of the week, it could well be more like Kirton Lindsey, which only manages a few hundred. What the high patronage does show is that it should get a more frequent passenger service, perhaps the novelty of a train on a day other than a Saturday would be beneficial. Gainsborough Central gained an hourly service for most of the week the day after I visited, and I expect the patronage to increase substantially, possibly at the expense of Lea Road. The position of Kirton Lindsey in relation to the town is probably a hindrance to that station. Then again, probably not as much as the lack of trains.
Author - Felix