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Author Topic: Community Rail – briefing  (Read 3972 times)
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« on: March 25, 2019, 12:26:25 pm »

Briefing note prepared for potential volunteers for Community Rail in the City - 15th May 2019

With its move to a more formal constitution, the Great Western Coffee Shop has embraced and adopted the ethos of Community Rail - supporting of rail and other public transport and its use, though at times a candid friend (the community rail world actually uses the stronger wording "critical friend")

Community Rail has been all about bringing more passengers and life back to local railways lines. And what a success it has been!

Trains that were "carrying fresh air" around when the first Community Rail Partnerships were set up 25 years ago are now much busier – bustling in the peaks – and that boosts not only the line and service itself, but also the local economy. Stations that looked sadly neglected and had minimal maintenance have been adopted by their communities, bringing at the least a smartness and pride and sometimes much, much more – a cafe, a community room, a museum that attracts visitors.  Community Rail Partnerships have also been the eyes and ears of the community - feeding back local information to the train operators to help tuning of local provision.

Across the South West, Community Rail Partnerships include:
* Devon and Cornwall Partnership – lines to St Ives, Falmouth, Newquay, Looe, Gunnislake, Paignton, Barnstaple and Exmouth
* Severnside – local lines in the Bristol Area including Weston-super-mare, Avonmouth and Severn Beach, and to Bath and Westbury
* Heart of Wessex – the line to Frome, Yeovil, Dorchester and Weymouth
* TransWilts – direct services from Swindon to Westbury
* Three Rivers – Salisbury to Southampton, local lines around Southampton
* North Downs line – Reading via Guildford, Dorking to Reigate, Redhill & Gatwick

Other Community groups are nearly Community Rail Partnerships, include:
* Cotswold Line Promotion Group (Oxford to Worcester and Hereford)
* Groups for the Henley-on-Thames, Marlow, Windsor & Eton Central branches
* Group for the Oxford to Banbury services
* Station friends groups for many places - both on and off community lines.

Community Rail has been the most enormous success across the UK - taking some of the smallest and most difficult lines and producing double the growth seen on none-community-rail lines, with each pound invested in volunteer work bringing £4.20 of benefit (ACoRP figures). Building on this success, other lines and services, such as some inner suburban lines, and being brought into the fold, and the information and user community information and support aspects are being picked up by the likes of the Great Western Coffee Shop forum - a user community with two thousand members spread across the GWR franchise area.  The Coffee Shop encourages use of public transport services - community rail lines, other lines, and buses too. And were going to be at Community Rail in the City at Reading on Wednesday 15th May with members talking to passengers, making them aware of our information sources, and telling them about lines, services and wonderful travel opportunities right across the South West, whether or not the lines we tell them about are technically Community Rail or not.  We hope to attract a few new members too.

The objectives of the Great Western Coffee Shop are:
* providing a voice for the community
* promoting sustainable, healthy and accessible travel
* bringing communities together, supporting diversity & inclusion
* supporting social and economic development
Those are the four new pillars of Community Rail – which you'll see reflected in the text above, and through the forum at .

You will also find the pillars more and more reflected into the work of all the established Community Rail Partnerships. But all CRPs are different – and from that difference comes our strength to look after our own areas.

Technical Note

Community Rail Partnerships are typically funded through a combination of local authority and train operating company grants (the latter being a franchise requirement specified by the Department for Transport). They are often based in local council offices or at stations on their 'patch' and most employ a Community Rail Officer to liaise the interworking of volunteers, local and national authorities, train operators and infrastructure owners.

Most Community Rail Partnerships are members of ACoRP – the Association of Community Rail Partnerships, based in Huddersfield. ACoRP provides training and resources for CRPs, advise, networking and expertise.  In arranges a number of events through the year, including Community Rail in the City, and an annual awards competition which allows Community Rail Organisations to benchmark themselves against other, with a meeting and dinner event to allow CRPs to say "thank you" to their loyal volunteers.
Last week, I met with ACoRP and Network Rail about the logisitics of our Community Rail in the City presence in Reading on 15th May ... this week I meet with GWR to get sign off on what we're doing on the booth. No surprises there as this has been ongoing since last Autumn, and shared in our "Frequent Posters" area on the forum.  Early in April I will be asking for volunteers to man the booth - I have some already, thank you ... leaving that just until after the GWR meeting so we're exactly right in what we ask.

We have a significant amount of space and will be multi-manned all the time, so don't be too worried if you feel you don't know much about community rail.   If you know a bit about train travel, who to ask if you don't know ... I would like your help.   But exactly how ... I'll let you know next week!
« Last Edit: March 26, 2019, 09:11:56 am by grahame » Logged

Coffee Shop Admin, Vice Chair of Melksham Rail User Group, and on the board of TravelWatch SouthWest.
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