6VT, based in Edinburgh, is the only youth-led community rail partnership in the UK. It was established via the 6VT Youth Café, which provides a space for young people to come together to access a range of services and personal development opportunities to improve their lives and help them reach their potential. Working mainly with 14-21 year olds, the café has helped more than 160,000 young people since the late 1990s.
The café had an existing relationship with Network Rail, working on rail safety projects, and it was suggested that this could be developed into a community rail partnership. The idea was agreed with ScotRail, who are now influential in driving the group forward. The partnership itself has a core of around 15 young members, many of whom also sit on the café’s youth board, with projects and meetings facilitated by café staff.
The group’s main aims are to connect young people along a range of railway lines serving Edinburgh and its surrounds, promoting health and wellbeing, inclusiveness, and rail safety. They tend to work on two projects per quarter, which in recent years, have been decided via votes following ‘Dragon’s Den’ style pitches from members. This year, the group have been developing a safety campaign linked to taking pets on trains, and a football tournament involving teams from different catchment areas within the partnership.
The group have also been involved with high-profile events such as a talent showcase at Edinburgh Waverley Station to celebrate the ‘Year of Young People’ in Scotland in 2018, the launch of the ‘Fearless’ hate crime reporting number, and the introduction of LNER’s new Azuma trains to the country. The partnership has young adults acting as chair and secretary, and everything project the group works on is youth-led, tackling issues that members feel are important to them.