Community rail is all about ensuring communities get the most from their railways. Working alongside local, regional and national partners, community rail partnerships and groups around the country aim to play an important role in social inclusion, community wellbeing and economic development, and promote rail as a key part of sustainable, healthy travel.
There are over 70 community rail partnerships around Britain, working along railway routes to connect communities with the railway, train operator and other partners. They deliver a range of activities to engage and benefit local people and support the development of the railway. You can see where Britain’s community railway lines are, region by region, and their main attractions, on our Scenic Rail Britain site.
More than 1,200 smaller community rail groups, such as station friends or adoption groups, or social enterprises, work locally, often involving volunteers in ensuring the station is a welcoming and productive hub for the community.
Community Rail Network provides support and advice to the community rail movement through our membership. We share good practice and connect community rail partnerships and groups together, while working with government, the rail industry, and the wider voluntary and community sector to champion community rail.
Increasing rail use
Community rail promotes understanding, confidence and positivity around rail and removes barriers to travel, and most community rail partnerships have achieved success in helping to attract passengers.
Community rail is evidenced to deliver significant economic value more than covering the investment put in. Community rail partnerships and station friends are ‘low-cost, high-value’, with partnerships paying for themselves. Volunteer activity is calculated to be worth £33.2m annual
The way community rail has connected railways with local people is a great success story. Volunteering is a key element, carrying benefit to the railways, passengers, local people, and volunteers.
Regeneration and development
Community rail can be a catalyst for bringing partners together to work towards physical, economic and social regeneration. This includes a growing number of community station projects where redundant or dilapidated stations buildings have been transformed into attractive gateways and hubs for the benefit of the community.