Success for Abellio Greater Anglia and Partners at the Community Rail Awards

Friday, 3 October 2014

Abellio Greater Anglia and a number of its partners received national recognition last night at the annual Community Rail Awards in Scarborough, attended by transport minister Baroness Kramer.  The event, which was celebrating its 10th year, celebrates best practice in community rail development and work by train operators, local authorities, community rail partnerships and volunteers in improving local railways to the benefit of local communities.

Abellio Greater Anglia, Suffolk County Council and the East Suffolk Line Community Rail Partnership (CRP) won the prestigious Passengers Matter award. The organisations have worked together to optimise the impact of the hourly service on the Ipswich to Lowestoft line for passengers with a sustained programme of route improvements (including ticket vending machines at stations, integrated bus links and better station facilities).  The overall impact has been a further 11% increase in passenger numbers (now almost 92% up on 4 years ago), smarter stations and improved connectivity and integrated transport arrangements.  The award also reflects the great work of station adopters at a number of locations along the line in improving station presentation.

Further success came with the Community Art Award (Permanent Art Projects) which was won by the Vauxhall Links partnership in Great Yarmouth for the Vauxhall Bridge Mural outside Great Yarmouth station.  Vauxhall Links, led by Miriam Kikis, is a community group that has successfully pulled together a wide range of people and funding to transform the Vauxhall Bridge and the gateway to the town as you leave the station. A stunning 70m mural greets the traveller emerging from Great Yarmouth station (on the Wherry Lines). This eye-catching work of art was the centre-piece of a major programme of community art activities run during 2013 by Vauxhall Links, in partnership with cultural and educational organisations.  It complements the newly refurbished Vauxhall Bridge, gateway to the town from the station, work on which was also made possible by the efforts of Vauxhall Links. Together, they have created a lasting legacy in Great Yarmouth and made the route to and from the station an attractive and pleasurable experience. Partners in the project included the Heritage Lottery Fund, Fair Share Trust Community Connections, Abellio Greater Anglia, Great Yarmouth Museums, Great Yarmouth Library, Norfolk County Council, the Wherry Lines CRP, Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society, The Seafood Restaurant, and Sustrans / Railway Paths.

There was also recognition for last year's "Morris dancing on the Bittern Line" event as Community Rail Norfolk manager Chris Wood's photo of Bittern Line Partnership and Community Rail Norfolk Board member Peter Mayne in full regalia at North Walsham was voted 3rd in the "Essence of Community Rail" photo competition.

Other projects involving Abellio Greater Anglia and local CRPs which were short-listed for awards included the East Suffolk line initiatives in the Outstanding Teamwork Award, work with the Hereward CRP in major enhancements to (and local promotion of) service frequency upgrades at Manea station, a stunning mural by Trevor and Diane Cobb at Frinton station and a community artwork sculpture at Braintree Freeport station.

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 line.  The first of these upgrades begins this Sunday morning as the Norwich to Sheringham line gains an "all year round" hourly service for the first time.  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 successes, Abellio Greater Anglia's Head of Corporate Affairs, Jonathan Denby, said:

"We are delighted that the significant work we have undertaken with partners, volunteers and communities across our network has been recognised at the Community Rail Awards.  The proactive sustained strategy to improve customer service, station facilities, build local links and improve integrated transport arrangements on the East Suffolk line, which won the Passengers Matter award, has helped drive record passenger numbers and rejuvenate this important route, to the benefit of passengers and communities along the line.  The Vauxhall Links' Vauxhall Bridge mural project led by Miriam Kikis is a fantastic example of community spirit, commitment and impact. We would like to thank all the partners (especially local authorities and CRPs) and volunteers who have worked with us on these initiatives and other community rail projects. It's clear that our collaborative approach makes a real difference and we will continue to work positively and tirelessly to extend the success of our community rail lines, maximising the railway's role in the communities it serves."