Community rail partnerships are connecting local communities to improve their railway
- Community rail partnerships bring together local volunteers, community groups, businesses, local authorities, rail user groups and other partners to help ensure people can get the most from their railways.
- Partnerships have helped to reinvigorate local rail travel, and deliver many social, economic and environmental benefits.
- TransWilts community rail partnership’s work has seen service levels grow from six to nine trains per day, with a 600 per cent rise in passengers.
One of the most effective ways the rail industry works in partnership with the communities it serves is with the help of community rail partnerships. These organisations bring together local volunteers, community groups, businesses, local authorities, rail user groups and other partners to help ensure people can get the most from their railways, and to inform and support the network’s development.
The collective local knowledge of community rail partnerships has proved invaluable in helping more people access and benefit from rail travel, and enhancing local services. Their work has had a transformative effect in many cases, helping to reinvigorate local rail travel, and delivering many social, economic and environmental benefits.
As a result, branch line services in the West of England are among the fastest growing, and most successful in the UK. The Severn Beach line in Bristol, for example, has seen passenger numbers almost triple in the past decade, with improved stations and services. Severnside community rail partnership has worked hard to understand barriers that might prevent people using rail and help more local families, and people facing difficulties and disadvantage, to access the wider opportunities that rail travel affords. Similar success stories can be seen across Devon and Cornwall branch lines, where the partnership has boosted rural communities and businesses through promoting rail tourism, and offering ticket deals for local families.
One of the most recent success stories has been the TransWilts Community Rail Partnership, which covers the line between Swindon and Westbury. Since 2014, the group has worked with local passengers, the local authority as well as GWR and Network Rail to make the case for, and then deliver, additional trains on the route. Service levels have now grown from six to nine trains per day, with a 600 per cent rise in passengers.
Community rail partnerships will continue to play a vital role as the region’s railways evolve – helping the industry to understand and respond to local needs, and helping communities understand what’s happening and how they can benefit and have a say.