‘All aboard’ as Community Rail Week encourages new passengers

Community groups and volunteers are coming together for this year’s Community Rail Week (23-29 May) to encourage people to ‘give the train a try’. They are especially encouraging the many families and individuals who rarely or never get on a train or bus, and instead rely on cars, to consider the benefits of making at least the occasional switch to greener, healthier, more social forms of travel.

Organised by Community Rail Network and sponsored by Rail Delivery Group, Community Rail Week will involve hundreds of community rail partnerships and volunteer groups. Community events and activities are planned nationwide – all the way from Edinburgh to Cornwall – raising awareness about local railways, encouraging more widespread use of rail, building travel confidence, and encouraging the switch from car to train.

Among the initiatives planned, there will be ‘Try the train’ trips for groups who are underrepresented as UK rail users and people with accessibility needs to help them to use rail safely and confidently; exhibitions in community spaces; promotion of walking trails and cycling routes linked to the railway; partnership efforts with local businesses on joint initiatives; and engagement with schools and colleges. Highlights include:

•             On Monday 23 May, Rail Minister Rt Hon Wendy Morton MP will travel from Bradford to Bingley with a South Asian Women’s Group working with Community Rail Lancashire, discussing their experiences of travelling by train. The Minister will see a range of initiatives helping to put the railway at the heart of local communities.

•             A national Community Rail Showcase will take place on Wednesday 25 May, when community rail partnerships across the UK will promote their local leisure and tourism offer via interactive, themed displays in public spaces such as larger rail stations, shopping centres and tourism attractions. Events will take place in Manchester, Birmingham, and London to name a few.

•             On Thursday 26 May, Community Rail Youth Day will see young people across the network take part in activities and make their voices heard. Jools Townsend, chief executive of Community Rail Network, will join students from Ashford College and travel to Maidstone, hearing their views on how we can break down barriers to travel and the role rail can play in tackling the climate emergency.

Community Rail Week looks to drive change at a community level through the efforts of 74 community rail partnerships and 1,200 station friends groups across Britain – working to help people get out of their cars and onto trains and other sustainable modes of transport.

Jools Townsend, chief executive of Community Rail Network, said: “Community Rail Week, and its call to action of ‘give the train a try’, is all about connecting local communities with their railways and encouraging and enabling more people to travel sustainably by train. Community rail has an inspiring track record of doing just that: promoting travel confidence and increasing access to opportunity, while bringing people together, giving communities a voice, and putting railways and stations at the heart of community life.

“Community rail partnerships and volunteers the length and breadth of Britain are this week mobilising en masse, engaging local people and partners to raise awareness about the importance of rail, and get people enthused about its benefits. We want to help people who feel less confident with train travel to give it a go, and get across the positive difference it makes switching even the occasional journey from car to public transport, for our planet, healthy living, and local communities.”

Jacqueline Starr, Chief Executive Officer of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “This Community Rail Week, we’re looking forward to welcoming everyone onto our network and connecting them to the people and places they love. We encourage people to give the train a try not only because it’s one of the greenest forms of transport, but also because it boosts local businesses and the wider economy.”

Image credit: Community Rail Network

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