Fifty years is a long time to wait for a train, but today, for Ilkeston, that wait is over.
Hundreds of residents, school children, Royal British Legion members and Scouts lined the newly built platforms to welcome the 9.44am Northern service from Sheffield to Nottingham carrying MPs, councillors and dignitaries.
The Advertiser led the calls for a train station in the town with its ‘Back on Track’ campaign, which launched in 2010.
Aboard the train was Jessica Lee, former Erewash MP. Her efforts, alongside the Advertiser campaign, proved instrumental in securing funding for the station.
She said: “It was so exciting boarding the train and knowing that the next stop was Ilkeston.
“It’s been a long time coming but it’s finally here, it’s a historic day for the town and the whole area.
“One thing we’ve learned with all this is to keep persevering and to never give up.
“It has taken a long time but then today, the train arrives, we’re on the track.”
Current Erewash MP, Maggie Throup, added: “It’s great to see everyone here on such a historic day.
“The kids were so excited and this is a day that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
“This station will benefit everyone in Ilkeston, young and old.
“It gives local residents a chance to get out of the town and also gives people the chance to travel here.
“We have so much to offer people, a great market, lovely walks, history. It’s a great day for everyone associated with Ilkeston.”
The new station stands on the site of original Ilkeston Junction and Cossall Station − later known as Ilkeston Junction − which was opened in 1847 by Midland Railway and closed on 2 January 1967.
Northern Rail and East Midlands Trains will run services to and from the new station with direct hourly trains running north to Chesterfield, Sheffield and Leeds and south to Nottingham. Some trains will also call at Liverpool and Norwich.
Jackie Kelly, 43, was one of hundreds of residents that were at the station to see the trains arriving and departing.
She said: “It’s great that the station is now open, we’ll be going everywhere on it.
“We’re planning a trip to Skegness this summer, I can’t wait.
“Hopefully it will improve the town centre and bring more shops into town so it can go back to being like it was before.”
Lisa Kelly, 21, added: “It’s going to be really useful to have it up and running.
“It’s much better than using buses everywhere and it’s great that people can get to Ilkeston easier too.”
The station will be unmanned but passengers will be able to buy tickets from machines on the platforms, which will also feature waiting shelters and customer information screens.
The station also boasts two car parks - a main car park with 90 spaces on the east side of the tracks and another on the west-side for disabled drivers, motorcycles and bicycles, a taxi rank and drop off and pick up point.
Derbyshire County Council’s strategic director for economy, transport and communities, Mike Ashworth, said: “Local people can now use the train to get to Nottingham and further afield to Sheffield, Chesterfield, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Norwich, cutting journey times, opening up job opportunities and reducing congestion.
“We know having a train station makes a town a more desirable place to live and set up business and so we’re looking forward to seeing the economic benefits the station will bring to Ilkeston and the surrounding area.”