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Community Rail News – 9 August 2023

Hello everyone. We hope you’re keeping well.

Community rail funding update

As you know, Community Rail Network has been working hard over the past couple of months to engage in negotiations on the proposed cuts to community rail funding, following the DfT’s ask of train operators in England to find savings. We initially convened a meeting of all train operator members of the DfT’s National Community Rail Steering Group, at which we advised on the dependency in community rail on train operator funding, the value it delivers, and how CRPs and their ability to deliver value would be harmed by core funding cuts. We strongly advised that, where savings had to be made, reductions in core funding should be avoided, due to it being critical to maintaining CRP staffing, with reductions only applied to biddable funding pots where essential.

We are pleased to say that train operators worked closely with us, and where relevant consulted CRP partners, and in almost all cases, ways were found to protect 100% of CRP core funding for 2023-24 (just one operator, LNER, looks set to make a small reduction).

We have now had a positive follow up discussion with the National Community Rail Steering Group about how we can work collectively to support community rail through what will continue to be a challenging period, including supporting community rail partnerships and station groups to fundraise from wider sources, and to evidence impact and value to help generate and protect funding. We are very much turning our attentions to 2024-25, aiming to ensure we are clear as early as possible on the position for next year, and encouraging that CRPs are well engaged in train operators’ business planning.

Please keep an eye on this bulletin for funding opportunities and guidance from Community Rail Network, and related updates such as on business planning.

Community Rail Conference invitations

Our annual Community Rail Conference, run with the DfT for community rail partnerships and their partners, is booked for 13-14 November 2023 in Nottingham. Invitations have been emailed to all member CRPs (lead officer and chair only) and, as places are limited, we advise you to book early. Invitations are not to be shared or forwarded, but if you haven’t received the invite and believe you should have, email events@communityrail.org.uk.

Upcoming networking sessions

Station adoption gardeners: All station adoption members are welcome to this online session focused on gardening, 6.30-8pm, Wednesday 30 August. There will be plenty of time to chat and share ideas and contacts, plus the chance to hear from Grow Feral about their project at Weston-Super-Mare Station. Book your place.

CRP Chairs Network: This online session, 9.45am-12.45pm, Monday 25 September, will provide CRP Chairs the opportunity to share experiences, discuss current issues, and get up to date information and support. The booking link will be sent via email. Please contact training@communityrail.org.uk if you haven’t received yours by 25 August.

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 23 August. Keep up-to-date in between on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Best wishes,
Jeremy and Jools