Essex and Suffolk Community Rail Partnership is first to achieve new national accreditation

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

The Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership has become the first in England to achieve accredited status from the Department for Transport.

The partnership, funded by train operator Greater Anglia, Essex County Council and other local organisations works to increase passenger numbers on the six branch lines within Essex and South Suffolk, build links between the local community and the railway and tackle social exclusion.

Under the government’s new Community Rail Strategy, community rail partnerships are encouraged to apply for accredited status to demonstrate that they operate to high standards and that their objectives and activities are supported by government.

The Essex and South Suffolk partnership’s accreditation also marks it out as a good representative of the local community.

It also gives the partnership access to the Community Rail Development Fund as a further source of grant funding to help it carry out its work.

Community Rail Officer, Jayne Sumner, said, “We are delighted to become the first partnership in England to achieve this new accreditation. It’s great to have our hard work recognised in this way and, with access to a new grant fund, should take us on to do even bigger and better things for the community in the future.”

Greater Anglia’s Customer and Community Engagement Manager, Alan Neville, said, “I’d like to congratulate the partnership on this achievement, which is testament to their efforts in attracting more people to use their local rail lines and the important work they do to help communities in Essex and South Suffolk.”

Cllr Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader of Essex County Council and Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, said: “This is wonderful news. Since the community rail partnership was formed in 1998 it has made it much easier for people to travel across Essex, bringing communities together and connecting people to services, employment and learning opportunities throughout the south east. It’s a story of hard work, initiative and success.”

Recent projects have included working with local schools on rail safety, improving branch line stations with art work produced by the community, special on train events such as music trains and historical commemorations, guided walks, creating bee friendly areas at stations, working with local groups to create stunning station gardens and gaining funding to install life saving heart resuscitators at stations.

The community rail partnership was formed in 1998 and has a total of six branch lines and 42 stations within its remit - The Sunshine Coast Line between Colchester and Clacton / Walton on the Naze; The Crouch Valley Line between Wickford and Southminster; The Gainsborough Line between Marks Tey and Sudbury; The Mayflower Line between Manningtree and Harwich; The Flitch Line between Witham and Braintree and the Wickford to Southend Line.