Gloucestershire Community Rail Partnership (GCRP) is spearheading work to provide new bookable ‘Taste for Travel’ trails and experiences.
The trails will encourage visitors to see rail as part of the adventure, leave the station to explore nearby attractions and experience local businesses.
Working with Visit Gloucestershire, district destination marketing organisations, and the private sector, the Taste for Travel project will encourage visitors to discover the county using sustainable modes of transport.
By developing strategic destination management tools, they will identify best practise models around partnership working so that rail experiences can be replicated successfully nationally to support the sustainability agenda and economic recovery of the visitor economy.
The projects, designed to promote Gloucestershire as a ‘Great Rail Experience’, have received £30,000 each from Great Western Railway (GWR) and long-distance operator CrossCountry.
GCRP co-director Hannah McDonnell said: “We are extremely grateful for the support from both Great Western Railway and CrossCountry. As part of our Taste for Travel bookable experiences, we have already worked on a food and farm trail and a cycling and walking trail for Stonehouse, as well as a food and drink trail in Cheltenham, and a food, farm, and forest trail in Lydney.
“The idea is that people step out of the station to enjoy an experience, make the most of local businesses and even stay at a local hotel. It’s about making it a ‘Great Rail Experience’.
“This ties in nicely with our plans to develop a strategic destination management experience to benefit community rail partnerships across the country. We want to create a robust and resilient strategy, where rail users can recognise the potential to reduce carbon through rail experiences.
“In five years’ time you could be anywhere in the country or visiting from abroad – with the development of this strategy you’ll be able to learn about amazing rail experiences right on your doorstep.”
GWR community rail development manager Ann Jenner said: “We have a specific pot of money designed to support the community rail partnerships on our network, who in turn work with their local communities. These are two pioneering projects which will not only help to encourage rail travel, but boost local economies and put communities at the heart of the development process.”
CrossCountry stakeholder liaison manager David Jones added: “CrossCountry is delighted to support these exciting projects to encourage visitors and residents of Gloucestershire to use rail travel as part of a packaged bookable experience.
“Our long-distance trains directly serve Ashchurch for Tewkesbury, Cheltenham Spa, Gloucester, and Lydney stations, which are all gateways to a host of experiences in different parts of Gloucestershire. These are ground-breaking community initiatives.”
Find out more about the work of Gloucestershire Community Rail Partnership here.