Government looking to widen Community Rail

Community rail

More communities are being encouraged to form partnerships with rail companies and councils centred on their local stations, under new plans for expanding the Community Rail initiaitive. Around 60 Community Rail Partnerships (CRP) have been formed by volunteers around the country. Typically they're working with train operating companies, Network Rail, local councils and other groups to promote rail services and to help communities benefit more from opportunities, such as land available near stations.

The Department for Transport is now consulting on plans to widen and replicate CRPs on a wider scale. Potentially millions of government investment is up for grabs for communities that can mobilise to form local partnerships. Last year around £3m was awarded to support CRPs, the DfT says. It cites Burnley Manchester Road as a success story. Passenger numbers through Manchester Road rose 100,000 over the past year. CRPs are also being held up as a good way of creating community cohesion; improving accessibility and security around stations and reducing vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

Announcing the new government consultation, rail minister Paul Maynard said: "We have seen nearly a quarter of a century of communities pulling together to breathe new life into railway lines and stations - and we want to build on that success.

"We want to give the volunteers the support they deserve, spread their success and encourage new partnerships to be created and flourish. This forms a key part of the investment the government is making in the railways – the biggest since the Victorian era, delivering new carriages, new routes, track upgrades and better stations."

The new government strategy on community rail – the first since 2007 – is due next spring, after the consultation closes in January.

The consultation focuses on four themes:

  1. connecting people to places and opportunities
  2. supporting communities, diversity and inclusion
  3. supporting local and regional economies
  4. suggesting innovative ways to improve the way the railway works