East Anglian Community Rail Partnerships part of a national success story

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The successes of some East Anglian Community Rail Partnerships (CRPs), of which Abellio Greater Anglia is the main funding partner, are highlighted in a new report published today by the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACORP), which shows that CRPs and station adopters are making rail travel a vastly improved experience for local people in the UK.


The East Suffolk line between Ipswich and Lowestoft and the Gainsborough Line between Marks Tey and Sudbury were both part of the research project, which shows that local routes with CRPs are seeing a higher growth in passengers than other local routes whilst volunteer station adopters are making a real difference by transforming local stations into a pleasing environment.


The main findings of this national report are:


2.8% additional growth on community rail lines compared to other regional lines.

CRPs add value and ‘pay for themselves’.

3,200 community rail volunteers give 250,000 hours of their time worth £3.4m

Station adoption leads to improved station environments and stronger communities.


The research was commissioned by the National Community Rail Development Steering Group. This partnership comprises central and local government, infrastructure owner Network Rail, the commercial sector Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) and the voluntary sector Association for Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP).


As well as promoting local railways and encouraging more people to travel by train, CRPs add economic, social and environmental value to their lines, by bringing together local people and the rail industry to develop solutions. Their collective initiatives provide access to jobs, schools, shops, tourism attractions and other services, contributing to sustainable communities.


Financial appraisal shows that the 11 CRPs assessed in the study achieved a cash surplus showing that CRPs create more income than they cost to run.

The report makes specific mention of the East Suffolk CRP's role in promoting the hourly service along the Ipswich to Lowestoft line, which has seen a 92% increase in passenger journeys over the past 5 years and the introduction of the Halesworth to Southwold Bus link in 2013 to connect the seaside town with the nearest station on the East Suffolk line. It also looked at wider developments on the East Suffolk line and on the Marks Tey to Sudbury route.


Abellio Greater Anglia is a passionate supporter of Community Rail initiatives and has increased train operator funding for CRPs across its network by 140% since it began running services in the region in February 2012. The company has also committed to a number of Sunday service improvements on community rail routes during its new short franchise to October 2016 including the Norwich to Sheringham, Marks Tey to Sudbury, Ipswich to Lowestoft and Norwich to Lowestoft lines.


The first of these upgrades was launched last October when the Norwich to Sheringham line gained an "all year round" hourly Sunday service for the first time.  Then, in December 2014, later last trains were introduced on the Marks Tey to Sudbury line on Sundays and the Norwich to Sheringham line on Fridays and Saturdays. The community rail lines across East Anglia continue to thrive, with proactive work by CRPs and an impressive network of station adopters at stations whose voluntary efforts improve the appearance of over 90 stations across the region with flower displays, gardens, murals and small scale station regeneration projects.

Commenting on the report Baroness Kramer Minister of State for Transport said: “Community Rail Partnerships have a vital role to play in building a stronger economy and a fairer society, as demonstrated powerfully by this research. By encouraging more people to travel by train, they bring real economic, social and environmental benefits to their areas, and support the record investment we are making in the rail network. I hope this inspires more people to set up partnerships and develop their own community railways.”


For Abellio Greater Anglia, Head of Corporate Affairs, Jonathan Denby said: "We are pleased to see that this national report illustrates clearly the value of Community Rail Partnerships. Abellio Greater Anglia is a committed supporter of the Community Rail approach. We have markedly increased funding support for our CRPs, helped launch the new Hereward CRP and been active participants in community-focused initiatives.


“We have also developed one of the most successful station adoption networks, played a positive role in the development of national CRP strategy and been pivotal players in joint projects with CRPs which have increased passenger numbers, fostered community involvement and received national recognition - such as the development of services and facilities on the East Suffolk line. We will continue to champion and support community rail developments across our network, to the benefit of customers and communities alike."