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Oxfordshire Community Rail Partnership to launch this summer

Oxfordshire Community Rail Partnership (OxCRP) will be launching this summer across the county. The partnership covers 22 train stations and will support local communities and visitors alike to benefit from sustainable transport with support from train operators GWR and Chiltern Railways.

Following on from a feasibility study produced by Gloucestershire Community Rail Partnership (GCRP), which was commissioned by Great Western Railway (GWR) last year, OxCRP will be launching activities this year with the mission of using the railway to improve the lives of people living in Oxfordshire while giving visitors to the county a high-quality welcome.

Oxfordshire CRP is focused on improving access to opportunities in the county through grassroots community projects that empower local voices, support the local economy and work to combat climate change.  With a key focus on supporting diverse and less advantaged groups, OxCRP will work with local communities and stakeholders, including station adoption groups, council members, researchers, and community centres, to develop rail-based solutions that address short-term needs and enable longer-term change.

OxCRP’s first year of activity will see the launch of three new community projects, including ‘Getaway to Independent Travel’, ‘Route2Work’, and ‘Connecting New Communities’. These core projects will focus on encouraging hard-to-reach communities to access opportunities via rail, while encouraging new visitors to enjoy the county sustainably. 

This focus is closely aligned with the Department of Transport’s four pillars of community rail, namely: providing a voice for the community, promoting sustainable, healthy, and accessible travel, bringing communities together, supporting diversity and inclusion, and supporting social and economic development. 

Hannah McDonnell, Executive Director of Gloucestershire Community Rail Partnership, said: “We are delighted to be expanding our work, impact and reach through establishing the Oxfordshire Community Rail Partnership. Ready to hit the ground running, our experienced and dedicated team will look closely at Oxfordshire’s specific needs to build and adapt our tried and tested approaches to supporting local people through transport and connectivity. We look forward to working with our new Oxfordshire partners and local communities.”

Zach Bailey, Stakeholder Manager for Chiltern Railways, said: “Chiltern Railways is delighted to be joining the new Community Rail Partnership in Oxfordshire. This builds on our track record of effective community engagement across our network. We already have strong community links with stakeholders in the area, from our work with the Junior Citizens Trust on school education programmes, to collaborative partnerships with Bicester Village and Banbury Business Improvement District.

“Our focus for this new partnership is to expand these activities to new areas of our network, providing volunteering and engagement opportunities for local people who share our goal of improving the look and feel of our stations for the benefit of the wider community.”

Emma Morris, Community Manager for Great Western Railway, said: “Throughout the GWR network, community rail partnerships play a leading role, bringing local people and communities together to add value to projects designed to improve services, and make stations safer, more welcoming and greener spaces.  We welcome the commitment to this new partnership, and efforts to further improve access to transport links in Oxfordshire, in support of the local economy.”

OxCRP has also worked closely with Community Rail Network throughout the feasibility phase and will continue to do so as it develops.

Paul Webster, Support and Development Manager at Community Rail Network, said: “We are delighted to support the launch of the new Oxfordshire CRP. Community rail is a growing grassroots movement led by organisations closely connected to their local communities, so this new CRP focused on the railways and stations of Oxfordshire is a great addition to the national network of over 75 CRPs. We have been pleased to support its development through our advice and guidance and look forward to celebrating the outcomes of projects built on the strong foundations the team at Oxfordshire CRP have put in place.”