Passengers in the south west will have more say on how local rail services are run with the designation of the Avocet Line as a community rail line, Rail Minister Norman Baker announced today (28 September 2012).
Designation of the line between Exeter St David’s and Exmouth will enable train companies to work more closely with the Avocet Line Rail Users Group and the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership to better design services to meet local needs.
Community Rail Minister Norman Baker said:
I want to encourage communities to become more closely involved with their railways to help create the services and stations passengers deserve.
That is why I am delighted to announce this latest community rail service designation and to be able to do so on the day of the national Community Rail Awards. Today’s designation is a major step towards helping the Avocet Line Rail Users Group and the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership work closely with local groups to provide innovative and more cost effective rail services for their community.
Mark Hopwood, Managing Director of First Great Western, which runs services on the line, said:
At First Great Western we’re committed supporters of Community Rail and fully endorse the benefits that working closely with our local partners can bring. We very much welcome the designation of the Avocet Line which will enable it to take full advantage of the benefits that are available to all our other thriving Community Rail branch lines.
Tony Day, Chairman of the Avocet Line Rail Users Group said:
Last year, when we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the opening of the railway to Exmouth, people from the communities along it showed their enormous support for the Avocet Line. They will depend on it more and more in future years, as new housing in Exmouth and the east of Exeter adds passengers to this already busy commuter railway. I look forward to the involvement of those communities in shaping the line’s development.
Richard Burningham, Manager of the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership said:
It is great to welcome the busy Avocet Line to the Community Rail family. This designation will help us, the Avocet Line Rail Users Group, Devon County Council and others work together more closely still to further develop and improve the line and its service in partnership with the rail industry.
Notes to editors
The Community Rail Development Strategy looks at innovative ways of operating local branch lines, through a programme of cost management, a drive to increase passenger numbers and direct community involvement via local authorities, community rail partnerships and other stakeholder groups.
To date, 18 lines with their services have been designated as community rail lines:
- St Ives Bay Line: St Erth to St Ives June 2005. Selected as one of the 6 pilot projects
- Abbey Line: St Albans Abbey to Watford Junction June 2005. Selected as one of the 6 pilot projects
- Esk Valley Line: Middlesbrough to Whitby June 2005. Selected as one of the 6 pilot lines
- Tamar Valley Line: Plymouth to Gunnislake September 2005. Linked with Looe Valley as one of the 6 pilot projects
- Looe Valley Line: Liskeard to Looe September 2005. Linked with Tamar Valley as one of the 6 pilot projects
- Penistone Line: Barnsley to Huddersfield September 2005. Selected as one of the 6 pilot projects
- Island Line: Isle of Wight (Ryde to Shanklin) March 2006
- Tarka Line: Barnstaple to Cowley Junction Exeter September 2006
- Maritime Line: Falmouth to Truro September 2006
- Derwent Valley: Derby to Matlock September 2006
- East Lancashire Line: Colne to Gannow Junction Burnley November 2006
- Gainsborough Line: Marks Tey to Sudbury November 2006
- Barton Line: Barton-on-Humber to Ulceby N. Junction January 2007
- Bittern Line: Norwich to Sheringham September 2007
- Lakes Line: Oxenholme – Windermere April 2008
- South Fylde Line: Blackpool South – Preston April 2008
- Lymington Line: Brockenhurst – Lymington July 2008
- Preston to Ormskirk Line: Preston to Ormskirk September 2011
Additionally, 14 services have been designated as community rail services whilst not designating the lines on which they run. These services are designated when there are reasons why the infrastructure cannot be included in the designation – because it carries non local traffic or heavy freight or has previously been designated as part of the Trans European Network. To date the following services have been designated:
- Poacher Line: Grantham to Skegness July 2006. Selected as one of the 6 pilot projects.
- Atlantic Coast Line: Newquay to Par September 2006
- Marston Vale Line: Bletchley to Bedford November 2006
- Wherry Lines : Norwich to Yarmouth February 2007
- Wherry Lines: Norwich to Lowestoft February 2007
- Clitheroe Line: Manchester to Clitheroe March 2007
- Medway Valley Line: Paddock Wood to Strood September 2007
- Severn Beach Line: Bristol Temple Meads – Severn Beach April 2008
- North Staffordshire Line: Crewe – Derby via Stoke – on –Trent November 2008
- Cumbrian Coast Line: Carlisle to Barrow-in-Furness September 2009
- Bishop Line – Darlington – Bishop Auckland January 2011
- Heart of Wessex Line: Bristol and Weymouth October 2011
- Mid Cheshire: Chester and Manchester via Northwich January 2012
- Furness Line (Barrow-in-Furness to Carnforth) June 2012
This latest designation will be officially announced at the eighth national ‘Community Rail Awards’ which will be hosted by the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) on 28 September 2012 in Swindon.