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Station art, sustainable travel and try the train trips – a busy month for Kent CRP

Kent Community Rail Partnership (CRP) has been busy working on projects to brighten up stations, promote sustainable travel and connect communities by rail. Read on to find out what exciting things the partnership has been up to.

By Gary Outram and Therese Hammond, Project Officers at Kent CRP

Maidstone CycleFest

We hosted a stall at this year’s Maidstone CycleFest on Saturday 10 June to talk all things bikes on trains, safe and scenic cycle routes, and cycle security at stations. Our team of course arrived sustainably, walking two heavily laden bicycles from our office at Maidstone West.

As in previous years, we met a number of people unaware that standard bicycles can be carried on all Southeastern services (except peak time trains into / out of London) and that folding bikes are always welcome.

We spoke with people to let them know how to identify cycle carriages on trains, and handed out town centre maps that show safe routes to stations and highlight seaside and countryside routes to enjoy away from busy motor traffic.

CycleFest wouldn’t be CycleFest without our ever-popular Smoothie bike and many delicious fruit smoothies were pedalled up.

A huge thank you to the volunteers who joined us on the day, helping to promote combining bikes with trains to travel in a healthy and sustainable manner.

Swalehalt Station

The fantastic mural panels at Swale Halt Station are now complete.

Local artist Graham Upton worked with Sheppey College students, drawing on inspiration from the local community to showcase visitor attractions on the Swale Rail line and celebrate the diversity of people who use the railway.

We wish to acknowledge the financial contributions from Councillors at Swale Borough Council and Kent County Council, together with Community Rail Network, all of which made this project possible.

Community Rail Week

For this year’s Community Rail Week (22-28 May), Kent CRP led a station orientation morning and ‘Try the Train’ trip for special education needs (SEN) students and their tutors from Ashford College.

The students have high anxiety, and it was felt they would benefit from an orientation event prior to travelling by train the following week. During the orientation event, the students were shown the electronic screens and taught how to work out which trains go where, at what time and from which platform, as well as where to buy tickets. They then explored the platforms, learning about the yellow line, tactile paving, and how to access assistance if anything is dropped on the track. The orientation morning helped the students feel reassured and safe to move around the station and they said they looked forward to travelling by train the following week.

A week later, the SEN students (12 in total, 1 blind, 1 deaf and all with ADHD and speech and language difficulties) undertook a ‘Try the Train’ journey from Ashford International to Maidstone East. They were shown various station projects from the window as they passed through the adopted stations. On arrival at Maidstone East, the students were greeted by friendly Southeastern staff and shown their train being dispatched.

Two lucky students even made public train announcements, which they were very excited about for some time. All students said they would like to travel on a train again, however, some felt they would need someone to help them to buy their tickets and ensure they were on the correct train.

Referring to the train trip and making the announcement, Pharrell said, “It was amazing” and was buzzing all the way back to college! Samira, who is deaf, was aided by a tutor signing for her and by the end of the trip said she would feel confident to travel by train. 

We would really like to thank Southeastern staff for supporting and funding these travel training sessions.

Keep up to date with future news, projects, and events from Kent CRP via their website.