A multi-million-pound boost to the UK’s community rail network that could see the creation of new routes and improved stations has been announced by rail minister Paul Maynard.
The investment into the community rail strategy is designed to expand and replicate the scheme on a wider scale across the country.
A consultation has been launched into how to expand and enhance community partnerships. It says there is a “role for community rail partnerships (CRPs) in ensuring that the voice of communities in working with stakeholders to identify and develop the case for new rail infrastructure.”
Maynard said: “We have seen nearly a quarter of a century of communities pulling together to breathe new life into railway lines and stations - and we want to build on that success.
“We want give the volunteers the support they deserve, spread their success and encourage new partnerships to be created and flourish.
“This forms a key part of the investment the government is making in the railways – the biggest since the Victorian era, delivering new carriages, new routes, track upgrades and better stations.”
The report added that there could be ”opportunities to work with independently owned heritage railways to provide new journey options.”
The strategy is the first since 2007 and will be launched in spring next year following the end of the consultation on 28 January.
The consultation is focused on four themes; connecting people to places and opportunities, supporting communities, diversity and inclusion, supporting local and regional economies and suggesting innovative ways to improve the way the railway works.
Nearly 60 CRPs have been set up since 1993 and have helped “revive and reshape” more than 80 routes and stations, DfT said, with the most successful projects boosting passenger numbers.
Funding received by each partnership will allow it to promote the station or line in the community and improve accessibility.