Norfolk’s Community Rail Partnerships looks back on a successful year

Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Bittern Line and Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnerships (CRPs) have published their annual report for 2013, looking back on another successful year for Norfolk’s local railway lines.

The report, available online at www.bitternline.com and www.wherrylines.org.uk, provides a summary of the Community Rail Partnerships’ achievements in promoting and supporting the railway lines (which run from Norwich to Sheringham and Norwich to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft) and sets out their commitments for the year ahead.

               

Highlights of the report include:

·    The launch of the 2013 Line Guide, which provided leisure travellers and day trippers with information about where to go and what to see at stops along the lines and included details of special events, free guided walks and discounts and included timetables for the Bittern Line and Wherry Lines rail services, valid until May 2014.

·    The railway lines’ successes at the Community Rail Awards with commendations in a number of awards including the Best Station Volunteers’ Project (Second Place for the West Runton Station Adopters), Best Innovative Use of IT in the Promotion of Community Rail (Third place for the CRPs’ smartphone app, websites, social media, etc.), Outstanding Volunteer Contribution (Second Place for Brian Jewell, Great Yarmouth Welcome Hosts) and a Passengers Matter Award (Second Place for North Walsham Station Travel Plan).

·    The promotion of the Abellio Greater Anglia travel scheme for 16-18 year-olds in partnership with Paston Sixth College, North Walsham and opportunities for other students to use the train at a discounted rate (and a leaflet published and distributed to highlight the good value fares.

 

·    Securing funding to help towards station improvements.

·    Promoting local businesses and facilities, together with connecting bus services, along the lines through the Line Guide, websites and innovative smartphone app.

There were also other positive initiatives such as work with station adopters (volunteers who with Abellio Greater Anglia to improve the presentation and appearance of local stations) at stations along the Bittern and Wherry Lines; the project with Cantley Primary School to promote the innovative rowing-boat-based flower display at Cantley station and a Morris dancing event on the Bittern Line.

In addition, Abellio Greater Anglia carried out repainting works to Bittern Line and Wherry Lines stations to improve the station environment for passengers, installed energy efficient lighting and a new ticket machine at North Walsham station as part of a carbon reduction scheme and completed an upgrade scheme led by Suffolk County Council to improve the car park and transport interchange at Lowestoft.

Passenger numbers on both the Bittern Line and Wherry Lines railway lines increased again last year to reach an all-time high of 625,000 and 564,000 passenger journeys respectively.

Chris Wood, Community Rail Norfolk’s Partnerships Manager, said, “The work of the Community Rail Partnerships, in partnership with Abellio Greater Anglia, and all our other partners, has delivered further improvements to Norfolk’s community railway lines and it is pleasing to see that improvements to stations, convenient services and good promotion are together attracting more people to use their local railways.”

Jonathan Denby, Head of Corporate Affairs at Abellio Greater Anglia said, "The ongoing work of the Bittern and Wherry Line CRPs provides valuable support to us as the train operator for these important rail lines and the communities along those routes. Our close partnership has again delivered upgrades and benefits for customers and local communities, with enhancements which not just improve rail services, but also support local economic, tourism, educational, transport and environmental objectives.  The effective work of the CRPs in partnership with us (and with our funding support) is a key factor in the continued success of these crucial regional rail arteries."

The CRPs are funded by Abellio Greater Anglia and local authorities including, Broadland District Council, North Norfolk District Council, South Norfolk Council, Suffolk County Council, Great Yarmouth Borough Council, Sheringham Town Council, Cromer Town Council and North Walsham Town Council, as well as the East Norfolk Transport Users’ Assocation.

Significant project funding has come from Norfolk County Council and from the Designated Community Rail Development Fund (DCRDF), run by the Department for Transport, Network Rail and the Association of Community Rail Partnerships.

In 2014, the CRPs aim to continue to promote and support the railways of Norfolk. Targets include continuing to increase passenger numbers and encourage greater use of local rail services; supporting the development of the lines for the social, economic and environmental benefits of residents and visitors; helping the routes compliment the aspirations of local communities; encouraging the further integration of rail services with bus, cycling and walking; supporting rail freight development, where applicable;  and promoting the benefits of integrated, sustainable forms of transport.