Rail network

Supporting detail:

Community rail

Community rail involves local people and organisations working in partnership to improve their local railways. Community rail initiatives such as station enhancements and innovative promotional schemes can help get better value for money from the rail network. These initiatives range from people helping to maintain station gardens, the refurbishment of small stations with artwork from local schools and can include major schemes.

We work along others in the industry to develop that values of The Community Rail Development Strategy:

Community railways aim to

  • increase revenue,
  • reduce costs,
  • increase community involvement
  • support social and economic development.

We work closely with the Association of Community Rail Partnerships who are the umbrella organisation for Community Rail Partnerships, rail user groups and volunteers who work with community rail.

Community rail lines and services are part of the commercial rail network accounting for around 40 million journeys per year. Train companies operate the services and Network Rail own and maintain the infrastructure, the track, signals and stations.

Although some community railways provide a tourism service, they are largely separate from heritage and private railways which function solely as tourist attractions. Although often rural, community rail lines may also run through inner city or suburban areas. The Severn Beach Line in Bristol is one of the few urban community railways in England running from Bristol to Severn Beach.

Around 3,200 rail volunteers work 250,000 hours per year helping to improve stations and reduce vandalism, providing a financial value of £3.4 million per annum. Research has shown that CRPs pay for themselves, adding economic, social and environmental value whilst passenger use on community rail lines grew by an additional 2.8% each year.

Community Rail Routes

We have designated 39 lines or services as community railways to help secure their long term viability.