The inaugural Community Rail Week, 18-24 October, is involving hundreds of community rail partnerships and volunteer groups running the ‘Go Green by Train’ campaign with activities to promote their local railways, and giving communities and young people a voice on green transport.
Organised by Community Rail Network and sponsored by Rail Delivery Group, the campaign week is focusing on young people’s views, voices and futures, as a new survey is released exploring travel habits and attitudes to green travel among 1,000 16–24-year-olds: 
- Seven in ten (70%) young people are keen to see more people using trains in the future, with the vast majority (90%) saying the environment and climate emergency is an important issue to them;
- Around half (48%) travel by train at least once a month, but one in six (17%) have rarely or never been on a train, or can’t remember when they last did;
- While 94% have a station near enough for them to use, most (67%) admit there are factors getting in the way of them using trains, including practicalities with walking, cycling, or getting a bus to the station, being worried about cost, or driving or getting lifts being more convenient.
With greener transport recognised as a fundamental part of the solution to the climate emergency, Community Rail Week and the ‘Go Green by Train’ campaign looks to drive change at community level through the efforts of 74 community rail partnerships and 1,000 station friends groups across Britain – working to help people get out of their cars and onto trains and other sustainable modes. Activities and events during the week include sustainable travel workshops, creative competitions and exhibitions, ‘Go Green by Train’ pledge campaigns, engagement with schools and youth groups, ‘try the train’ trips, and question time style sessions with young people discussing the environment and transport.
Transport has a huge role to play if the UK is to reach its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 100% of 1990 levels, or ‘net zero’, by 2050. Figures show that:
- Transport is now the largest emitting sector in the UK, making up 27% of domestic emissions in 2019; 
- Rail accounted for just 1% of domestic transport emissions in 2019, despite representing 10% of the total distance travelled, and is the greenest form of transport after walking and cycling; [3, 4]
- One train can remove up to 500 cars off our roads; 
- For a 30-mile journey, travelling by train instead of by car can reduce emissions by up to 86%. 
Jools Townsend, chief executive of Community Rail Network, said: “As we approach the international climate talks in Glasgow, Britain’s community rail movement is coming together to highlight the great importance of green travel at a local and global level. Transport is now the biggest contributor of UK greenhouse emissions, so we face a pressing challenge to decarbonise the way we get around, for the sake of future generations – plus our communities can benefit now from reduced traffic and pollution. Rail, combined with buses, walking, cycling, and shared mobility, provides a huge part of the solution: shifting as many journeys as we can onto these modes, breaking down green travel barriers, and reducing car use can help us forge a more sustainable, healthy, inclusive future.
“We’re excited to launch our first Community Rail Week with events and activities in communities across Britain, raising awareness and exploring how we can enable and empower more people to feel confident and able to go green by train.”
Andy Bagnall, director general at the Rail Delivery Group, said: “Trains are inherently green so when people go by rail it’s more than a journey – it’s literally helping to save the planet!
“In future, we want trains to be the backbone of a decarbonised transport network so, as well as supporting initiatives like Community Rail Week, we want to work with government to reform ticketing and fares – if it’s easier for people to find and buy a good value ticket, more people will use rail as a green alternative to other ways of travelling.”
- Survey of 1,024 16–24-year-olds carried out by YouthSight in September 2021 on behalf of Community Rail Network