Looking forward to our 2021 awards

In consideration of the impacts and ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic, we have reviewed the Community Rail Awards in detail and reached what we feel are sensible conclusions and plans for 2021, aiming to make this a prestigious, special and inclusive event that works for all.

The schedule is being pushed back from the previously publicised provisional date, so the key dates are now:

  • Monday 14 June – entries open via the Community Rail Network website 
  • Monday 2 August – entries close
  • Tuesday 31 August – shortlist announced (by this date)
  • Thursday 9 December – awards presentation event.

The event is being planned as a hybrid event, with the physical event possibly smaller than usual, at the Guildhall in Southampton. This would combine live presentations on-stage, and digital production similar to 2020, which would be streamed via an online platform to those unable to attend in person. The live presentations would probably be presented in front of a theatre-style audience (BAFTA style), preceded by a drinks reception with canapes and followed by a hot supper. We would still have allocated tables for eating, but with greater opportunity to network afterwards. We are planning this with cautious optimism, but the plan remains dependent on the roadmap out of Covid restrictions being successful. Rail Delivery Group has once again kindly agreed to provide shortlisted nominees with cross-network complimentary tickets for travel to Southampton. 

We have reviewed and adapted some of the awards categories for 2021, so that they more appropriately reflect the challenges/impact of the pandemic on community rail activity during 2020-21. Some categories have been postponed until 2022, as listed below.

Full category criteria will be published within the entry booklet, but category titles will be as follows:

  1. Involving children and young people
  2. Involving diverse groups
  3. Community creative projects and station arts (temporary amalgamation of temporary and permanent art projects categories)
  4. Small projects – £500 or less
  5. Best community engagement project
  6. Best communications (enhanced focus on digital and pandemic adaptations)
  7. Influencing positive change on sustainability
  8. Photo competition: community rail in 2020-21
  9. Outstanding volunteer contribution
  10. Station friends and adopters at the heart of communities (temporarily replacing ‘It’s Your Station’ with a simpler structure looking at how groups have adapted and made a difference over the past year)
  11. Rail Delivery Group special award
  12. Community Rail Network award for outstanding contribution to community rail

Categories that have been postponed for this year

  • Most enhanced station
  • Tourism & heritage award

With the postponed categories, any projects that are completed prior to the 2021 closing date can still be carried forward and submitted in 2022.

Full details on each award category and the judging criteria will be published in late spring, ahead of the awards opening for entries.


Community Rail Awards 2020

An inspiring range of innovative community rail initiatives, delivered by community groups, partnerships, and volunteers across Britain, have been celebrated at the 16th Community Rail Awards. This year’s event, held online for the very first time, recognised a diverse array of projects, including many that had risen to the challenges of supporting communities through the pandemic, continuing to build links, positivity and awareness between local people and their railways.