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Community Rail News – 19 April 2023

Hello everyone, we hope this newsletter finds you all well.

Developing our team

We are really pleased to be able to welcome Dan Coles, our director of member support & development, who started last week, and Nick O’Hara, our director of communications & policy, who will join us on 2 May. Dan and Nick bring a wealth of experience and enthusiasm for supporting and championing community rail.

Meetings with Rail Minister and Shadow Minister

We were delighted to meet Rail Minister Huw Merriman MP earlier this week and discuss how community rail is helping to create a flourishing railway delivering maximum value to our communities. We discussed the role community rail can play in creating a more inclusive and accessible railway, breaking down travel barriers, and creating better links with other sustainable modes of travel, as well as the opportunities for more community-led stations projects. We also recently met Shadow Rail Minister Tan Dhesi MP, providing a rounded briefing of the work of community rail across Britain. Both the Minister and Shadow Minister expressed their support and enthusiasm.

Small Grants Fund

The 2023-24 round of the Small Grants Fund is now open to members in England. To hear about examples of previously funded projects, and tips for applying, join our online session on Wednesday 26 April, 2.30-3.45pm. Book your place and see the details and criteria.

Community Rail Week drop-in

Would you like support with your plans for Community Rail Week, or other communications and PR activities? Join Alice and Erin on our next comms drop-in on Thursday 27 April, 4-6pm. Drop in using this link anytime within the slot. Please also remember to tell us your Community Rail Week plans: email erin@communityrail.org.uk.

Ticket offices

This topic came up at our conference, and we’re aware that many members have worries about the potential threat of ticket offices closures. This follows media reports suggesting ticket offices may be closed due to the fall in physical ticket sales (now accounting for just 12% of sales). We wanted to assure that we have been involved in various discussions with DfT, RDG and GBRTT on the future of stations, and ticket offices, and have relayed your concerns, especially on how this could affect more vulnerable passengers and reduce people presence at stations. However, we understand that current intentions are to look at moving staff who are currently confined to ticket office booths to be roaming at stations and therefore more flexible in supporting passengers (such as helping those who need help to use ticket machines), as opposed to removing staffing entirely. If this is seen through, it could mean stations become more inclusive and welcoming, and may mean some ticket office spaces can be repurposed for community uses. We are, though, continuing to keep a close watching brief, ensuring community rail’s concerns (as well as potential opportunities) are understood. We hope to be able to update further in the near future.

Coronation

If you have events planned to mark the Coronation on 6 May, please contact our Comms and Policy team, who are keen to promote your efforts on social media.

Equality and diversity survey

As a membership organisation, understanding our membership is crucial. Earlier today we circulated our first equality and diversity survey to members. Please take a few minutes to complete it and pass to colleagues/volunteers within your CRP or group, before Friday 5 May.

If you have any news stories, please email our communications team on news@communityrail.org.uk. See here for guidance on submitting stories.

Your next bulletin is on 3 May. Keep up-to-date in between on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Best wishes,
Jeremy and Jools