Hello everyone. We hope this newsletter finds you all well.
Ticket office consultation update
Yesterday we welcomed the news that proposals to close and reduce the hours of ticket offices across England had been scrapped. Many of our members fed into the consultation, and reported to us that the proposals looked set to undermine our ability to promote an inclusive, welcoming railway, and enable wider use of rail. Given community rail’s role to provide a voice for communities, and promote and enable rail use, we are pleased the concerns have been heeded. Read more.
Engaging with train operators’ business planning
The annual business planning process for train operators in England is underway, with the request for business plans having been issued by DfT, and train operators having up to the first week of December to submit first draft plans. We have been liaising with the DfT on this, given the importance of business planning to ensuring that community rail has the support it needs in 2024-25, and enabling community rail to fulfil its role of providing communities with a voice.
Train operators are being asked by DfT to engage community rail and draw on its input; we expect this to happen during this initial stage over the coming month, with ongoing updates/dialogue as appropriate. We’re pleased that many CRPs have already heard from train operators, and we know some train operators have well-established mechanisms for gathering community rail input. We strongly urge all CRPs to actively take part in these exercises, and if you haven’t yet heard from them, reach out to main contacts at all your partner/funder train operators now to check how you can be involved and offer your input both on community rail support and wider rail plans. We also continue to urge that you thoroughly record and evidence the impact of all activities being enabled by this year’s funding (to remind, our Impact tool is free for members to aid this).
We know CRPs are also anxious to know when the business planning process will conclude and the CRP core funding amounts be confirmed. The DfT have told us it is too early in the business planning cycle to provide an answer; we will keep asking and update you when we can. The hope on all sides is that funding will be confirmed earlier this year, and that we will not have a repeat of the situation at the start of this financial year with train operators being asked to reduce community rail budgets. If you need advice from us on engaging with business planning, or funding and finance generally, speak to your usual support & development team contact.
We warmly encourage members to join our online AGM next Tuesday 7 November, 2-3.30pm, to hear an overview of our impact and discuss future plans. Book your place.
Tackling Loneliness with Transport
We’re excited to share the full results from our ‘Engaging Young People with Community Rail’ project, which was funded by the DfT to explore ways to reduce loneliness. We think the findings are very useful in evidencing the profound benefits community rail can deliver:
- Of the 400+ young people engaged, two-thirds (65%) said they had discovered new places and six in 10 (60%) reported feeling newly confident to use the trains;
- Prior to the project eight in 10 were only rare/occasional train users and one in 10 had never been on a train;
- Feedback and commentary showed wide-ranging and life-changing outcomes for the young people in terms of confidence, connectedness and ability to access new opportunities.
Three pilots were run: in Gloucestershire & Bristol, by Gloucestershire CRP and Severnside CRP; in Blackburn with Darwen, by Community Rail Lancashire; and in Newcastle & County Durham, by youth and family charity Catch22. The project report by Dr Miriam Ricci outlines findings from workshops, surveys and interviews, outcomes achieved, and how logic models and participatory evaluation were used to assess impacts. Find out more.
Jeremy and Jools
- Government report on rural transport innovation recognises community rail
- RHS praises floral displays at stations across Northern network
- Campaign for Better Transport calls for big changes to rail ticketing
- Join workshop to develop your local area as a safer place to cycle, walk and wheel
- London Northwestern Railway community grant breathes new life into stations
- Explore the heritage of the East Lothian line with new scenic guide
- Heart of Wales Line CRP appoint new Community Rail Development Officer
- Transformation of Goostrey Station features in local history exhibition
- 3 Counties Connected CRP launches fund to support communities along the line
- Industry colleagues swap tracks for trowels at Hindley Station garden
- Boosting travel confidence in older generations with Yorkshire Coast CRP
- Mid Cheshire Line CRP celebrate roaring success of Music Trains programme
- Primary school pupils’ mural brightens up Wrabness Station
- Job alert: Hampshire CRP seeking two new officers