Community Rail: a British success story
Above: community volunteers at Kidsgrove station
Community Rail in the UK
‘Community Rail’ is one of the great success stories of the UK rail industry over the last fifteen years. I initiated the concept in 1993, in New Futures for Rural Rail and was instrumental in setting up the Penistone Line Partnership in the same year, which I chaired until 2004. I helped establish many other community rail partnerships across the UK including groups on The Bittern Line (Norwich – Sheringham), West Lancashire, Esk Valley, Preston – Colne, Darlington – Bishop Auckland and Hope Valley.
The ‘community rail’ concept won Government approval in 2004 with the publication of the Community Rail Development Strategy, which is managed by the Department for Transport. A strong ‘community rail’ commitment is now often expected from franchise bidders by DfT.
Community Rail Partnerships bring together a diverse range of stakeholders along a local railway (or network of lines) with the common aim of promoting the railway and ensuring the railway meets the needs of local communities. There are now over CRPs across the UK, federated into the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) which I set up in 1997. I was General Manager of ACoRP until 2004 (see www.acorp.uk.com).
As well as line-based partnerships, I have been involved in promoting local ‘station partnerships’ which are entirely voluntary and bring a touch of TLC to stations – often with stunning results. There are other 60 in the North of England alone, and ACoRP’s recently republished ‘Station Adoption Toolkit’ gives numerous examples of good practice.
Take a look at:
(a fairly detailed account of the community rail movement, for ‘Today’s Railways’ magazine – the fully-illustrated version will appear in the April 2012 edition)