Published on: Monday, 6 February 2023
Last updated: Monday, 4 September 2023
Above: Last year's Cockney Singalong event train. Credit: ESSCRP
Special event trains will run across Essex during 2023, in a partnership between the Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership and train operator, Greater Anglia.
The Essex & South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership (ESSCRP) aims to encourage and promote the use of six rail branch lines in Essex, by supporting local projects developed in partnership with community groups, businesses and Greater Anglia and encouraging sustainable active travel for all.
They will run a programme of special event trains throughout the year, starting in February when, in partnership with Barnardo’s charity, they will take a group of disadvantaged young people and families on a day out by train - with a magician on board and lunch and crafts at Community 360’s One Colchester Community Hub.
Four trains aimed at helping refugees and asylum seekers adapt to life in Essex will run during February and March in partnership with Refugee, Asylum seeker & Migrant Action to help refugees and asylum seekers adapt to life in Essex. The day trips by train will help them find out about how to use public transport and where to explore further afield for social, leisure and employment opportunities.
On 4 April, families will be able to board the ‘Ladybird Train’ at Witham for a trip to Braintree Museum’s Ladybird book exhibition, with each child receiving a goodie bag and Ladybird book.
On 17 April, people with dementia and their carers will be able to join a special train from Witham to Braintree, enjoying live music from saxophonist, Andrew Bruell, during the journey, before visiting Braintree Town Hall for tea and cake.
During the summer, the ever-popular Bucket and Spade trains offering bargain family days out to the seaside return on 25 July, 8 August and 22 August, as well as the music trains, with Music On The Gainsborough Line on 17 June, a Cockney Singalong on 22 July and a Sea Shanty Train on 14 October.
Following on from a successful debut, which saw a tree planted for every passenger, the Climate Awareness Train will run again on 17 September, from Wickford to North Fambridge, and will include a guided walk around Blue House Farm nature reserve.
A programme of guided walks linked to train stations will also run throughout the year.
Details of all the events and how to buy tickets can be found at esscrp.org.uk
Jayne Sumner, Essex & South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership’s Rail Engagement Manager, said, “We’ve got a really exciting year ahead with a full diary of activities for everyone to get involved in. All the details can be found on our website and, for our ticketed events, I would advise people to book early as many of our events are extremely popular and will sell out. I look forward to welcoming people aboard our special trains in 2023.”
Last year, the Essex & South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership (CRP) received the award for ‘Outstanding contribution to Community Rail’ at the national Community Rail Awards, for the huge range of activities that they run across six Essex rail branch lines which benefit communities in the county.
Alan Neville, Greater Anglia’s Customer and Community Engagement Manager, said, “Jayne and her team work tirelessly to deliver extremely valuable projects that make a difference and deliver real benefits to the communities we serve.
“They’re always coming up with new ideas to attract people from all sectors of the community to enjoy train travel and help the local community - and this year is no exception, with a full diary of fantastic events to look forward to.”
“We look forward to continuing to support them in their aims this year.”