Hi everyone. We hope you’re keeping well, on what would have been Community Rail in the City day. See below for more on this, plus other Community Rail Network initiatives and opportunities you can get involved in.
Also scroll down for stories on how community rail is staying productive, and keep your examples coming to Nik for future bulletins
Our guidance on Covid-19
Following recent announcements, we have made some updates to our Covid-19 advice for community rail partnerships and station groups, to help you keep up-to-date. This includes links to crucial government guidance, including the new advice on essential use of public transport, so please have a read and share with colleagues, partners and communities. For avoidance of doubt, our advice remains that community rail officers should continue working from home (in line with government guidelines that you should work from home if you can) and that station adoption volunteering is suspended (as this would involve entering stations).
Last week, we told you how we’re engaging with partners, and keen to hear from members, to start thinking forward to Covid-19 rebuilding. We appreciate that recent announcements have included firm messages on continuing to dissuade from public transport, unless essential, and that the wider picture on the lives lost continues to be harrowing. However, we remain clear that community rail’s role will be ever more important over the coming months and years, and we continue to encourage you to make as much good use of this time as you’re able to, with our support. We’ve been encouraged too, by the fantastic examples you continue to share (see below and our Twitter feed).
Building on discussions we’re having, and the DfT’s Community Rail Development Strategy, we will be drawing up a broad offer of the main ways we think community rail can contribute to recovery, especially to help us ‘build back better’. We hope this will be something we can use to champion community rail at national/devolved level, and which you can draw on and make your own at a local level: we appreciate that every community rail partnership and station group is different.
We’ll be drawing on the ‘build back better’ concept: used by the UN and WHO to talk about how, in recovering from disasters, we can create a more inclusive, sustainable, resilient future, and break down long-running barriers. We are already seeing some silver linings emerging from Covid-19, to do with boosting active travel and the public realm, and community partners drawing together. Do consider how you might engage with such opportunities, keep sharing your ideas and examples, and help us get across that community rail is a positive force in helping communities and rail to ‘build back better’.
Learning opportunities on social media, media and awards
Thanks to everyone who has signed up for our first webinar on 19 May on writing great award entries – we’re looking forward to seeing you, virtually of course. The following two, on engaging local news media and using social media, are now open for bookings:
- Engaging local media, 30 June, 14.30-15.45, with the Community Rail Network team and community rail examples – find out more and sign up
- Harnessing social media, 15 July, 14.30-15.45, with the Community Rail Network team and community rail examples – find out more and sign up
Do make use of these to brush up, refine or revitalise your communications activities, and don’t forget you can also use our resources on these topics here.
10 years of Community Rail in the City
Community Rail in the City is one of our flagship events, promoting sustainable travel and tourism. Usually, each year, community rail partnerships and groups showcase their lines, stations and community rail activities at major stations. Over the past 10 years we’ve seen some amazing displays, from Roman soldiers, to sea-shanties, to smoothies made with pedal power, and even a replica RAF Red Arrow! To celebrate this anniversary, our Twitter and Facebook pages will be full of these memorable moments from previous years. Please share your Community Rail in the City photos and clips using #CommunityRail and #RailwayFamily, while making clear that the message for now remains ‘do not travel’. We hope this virtual celebration will remind everyone of the spirit of community rail. Take a look back at our 2019 events.
Developing your tourism offer
Although none of us are promoting travel at the moment, we know that many people are starting to think of trips they will take when we come out of the other side of Covid-19. We’re keen to work with you to help promote community-minded, sustainable, healthy trips, and to help use the railway to support local economies, when it becomes possible again, and there’s much we can do in the meantime to get ready for this. Our tourism and heritage officer Alice Mannion can support community rail partnerships and station groups to develop your tourism ‘offer’ and impact, especially online, and through our Scenic Rail Britain site. Contact Alice.
Decarbonising transport plan
As reported last month, the Department for Transport has published a report setting out its intentions to draw up a transport decarbonisation plan. This includes the aspiration of making ‘public transport and active travel…the natural first choice for our daily activities’, reducing car use and ensuring public transport is ‘convenient, cost-effective and coherent’. It also states a commitment to engaging partners and communities in drawing up the plan: a great opportunity for community rail to feed in its local experiences.
The Community Rail Network has put in an initial response, broadly explaining the role of community rail on sustainable travel, and stating our willingness to feed in and help our members feed in. We will be providing a more detailed submission, with examples from members. However, we also encourage you to put in a statement to email@example.com about who you are and your work’s relevance to sustainable transport, alongside, if relevant, your interest to feed in further and attend a workshop. See p6 of the report on how to engage.