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Two new community rail partnerships announced on South Western Railway network

The Community Brain team

South Western Railway (SWR) has announced the formation of two new community rail partnerships (CRPs) and a host of station adoption groups on its part of the rail network.

One partnership will serve stations in Hampshire’s Wey Valley from Alton to Wanborough, including Ash Vale, while the other will be based within the southern part of the London Borough of Kingston.

Connecting people and communities is at the heart of SWR, and the new CRPs, whose development has been supported by Community Rail Network, will focus on a wide range of projects aligned to the Community Rail Development Strategy, bringing communities together.

The partnerships will work with their local communities and community groups to build an understanding of the importance of local railways, whether it be improving mobility and sustainable travel, or community cohesion and wellbeing, or social and economic development. 

SWR is actively involved with each CRP, working in partnership with them to deliver outcomes that benefit as many people as possible, and is invested in employing an officer for each partnership to deliver community activities.

SWR also works closely with more than 80 station adoption groups, supporting dedicated volunteers to make a difference to their local areas and help communities get the most from their stations. Recently, a dozen new adoption groups have been established at Ashurst and Havant in Hampshire; Bookham, Effingham Junction, Egham, Milford and Witley in Surrey; St Margarets, Barnes, Putney and Richmond in London, and Hamworthy in Dorset.

The new Kingston CRP has grown out of a successful station adoption project at Tolworth Station coordinated by The Community Brain, and the CIC will be responsible for overseeing the running of the partnership.

Robin Hutchinson of the Community Brain said: “The Community Brain has worked with our friends at South Western Railway since 2018 when we adopted Tolworth station as part of our SHEDx programme. We’re very pleased to be extending that relationship into a community rail partnership, which will allow us to work together to provide community projects and social action across more of the south of Kingston Borough.”

Mark Miller, chair of the new Wey Valley CRP, said: “We are delighted to be working with South Western Railway to expand community rail in Hampshire with the forthcoming creation of the Wey Valley Community Rail Partnership between Alton and Guildford (including Ash Vale). This will be the fourth community rail partnership in Hampshire and it will seek to promote the beautiful Wey Valley, build volunteer groups around the stations, improve station environments, and enhance opportunities to travel by train to and from local tourist attractions. 

“It is an exciting opportunity to develop our railways and design specific community projects which benefit the whole area. Should any resident, business, community group or organisation wish to become a partner with us, we would be pleased to hear from you!”

Paula Aldridge, community rail manager at South Western Railway, added: “South Western Railway is delighted to be supporting two new community rail partnerships, and 12 new station adoption groups. We look forward to seeing them start to make a real difference in their communities, showing people what their local station has to offer and encouraging them to make full use of their facilities.”

Daniel Wright, community rail support officer with Community Rail Network, said: “We have been, and will continue to be, involved as these two new CRPs get themselves up and running, providing advice on establishing steering groups, ensuring effective community engagement, and delivering worthwhile outcomes and social value. We also look forward to working with them to become full members of Community Rail Network as they develop.”