Community rail

Community rail involves local people and organisations working in partnership to improve their local railways.

What is community rail?

Community rail is a grassroots movement working to engage communities in their local railway. Initiatives range from people helping to maintain station gardens to major refurbishment schemes.

Although some community railways provide a tourism service, they are largely separate from heritage and private railways which function solely as tourist attractions.

Community rail takes the form of community rail partnerships and station adoption groups.

Community rail partnerships accreditation

Community rail partnerships bring together local groups and partners from the rail industry with industrial groups to deliver a wide range of rail activities.

The partnership usually represents a number of stations and services operating over a railway line. If you want to help an existing community rail partnership you should contact them directly.

We believe all community rail partnerships in England and Wales should be accredited.

The accreditation process is completed through our partner the Community Rail Network, and partnerships should contact them for support and further information. The decision for awarding accreditation is made by:

  • Department for Transport
  • the Welsh Government

Station adoption groups

A station adoption group is the generic term for volunteers who limit their involvement to railway stations. They work to improve and maintain their stations with train operators and Network Rail but will normally not be involved with the operation of the trains themselves.

Station adoption groups are not subject to the same accreditation process as community partnership.

The process for helping at your local station is, once again, run by our sponsored partner Community Rail Network.

Accredited community rail partnerships

Community rail partnerships which have been awarded accreditation or are in the process of applying for accreditation.

Future community rail development strategy

The development strategy sets out what we expect to see from community rail in England and Wales till 2028.

The strategy supports community rail organisations to be inclusive, independent and sustainable groups.

The community rail development strategy was an outcome of the consultation and by working with Community Rail Network who provide resources and training for community rail.

Published 22 December 2015
Last updated 5 October 2020 + show all updates
  1. Alteration of accreditation application email.

  2. Consultation on the future of community rail strategy.

  3. TransWilts community rail line.

  4. Consultation on the proposal to designate the TransWilts Line (Swindon to Westbury) as a community rail service opens.

  5. First published.