Essex Community Rail Partnership wins top national award

Published on: Tuesday, 11 October 2022
Last updated: Tuesday, 11 October 2022

Community rail partnership awards ceremony

Above: The Essex and South Suffolk CRP is presented with the award for Outstanding Contribution to Community Rail. Credit: Community Rail Network.

A community organisation which has organised a huge range of activities to encourage people to use trains – from a try a train day for refugees and asylum seekers to running the region’s first ever climate change train to raise awareness of environment issues - has been recognised with a national award.

The Essex & South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership (CRP) received the award for ‘Outstanding contribution to Community Rail’ at the Community Rail Awards held in Manchester last week.

They were recognised for developing a huge range of activities across six Essex rail branch lines over the last year which have benefited communities in the county, including:

  • working with Refugee, Asylum Seeker & Migrant Action (RAMA) to help refugees and asylum seekers adapt to life in Essex;
  • running Essex’s first-ever Climate Change Train, encouraging families to think about the climate emergency, biodiversity, and the importance of travelling sustainably by rail, and planting a tree on behalf of every passenger who travelled;
  • partnering with Maldon and District Community Voluntary Service to host the Southminster Railway Shed volunteers in their new base at Southminster Station;
  • creating a new community garden at Rayleigh Station and developing the Bee Friendly Community Station Garden at Alresford;
  • organising its first-ever dementia-friendly day out by train, and running its inaugural ‘heritage’ train, alongside other special services such as music and singalong trains;
  • enhancing station environments with colourful planters and floral displays, vibrant new artwork, and talking benches;
  • working with Greater Anglia to produce a video promoting things to do and see from the partnership’s six lines, encouraging people back to rail;
  • and continuing to develop its rail safety programme with local schools and community groups, which has engaged more than 12,000 people since 2012.

Their efforts, with Greater Anglia, to see community involvement at every station on the six branch lines in Essex, through Greater Anglia’s Station Adoption initiative, were also recognised as making an ‘overwhelming’ difference and creating welcoming and attractive station environments for communities to be truly proud of.

Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership Engagement Officer, Jayne Sumner, said, “We are over the moon to receive this award, which was completely unexpected but very welcome.

“I am really proud of what we as a team have achieved in building positive relationships and mutually beneficial links between rail branch lines in Essex and the communities they serve and it is so wonderful to achieve this recognition.”

Alan Neville, Greater Anglia’s Customer and Community Engagement Manager, said, “We are delighted that the Essex and South Suffolk CRP has received this national recognition as their contribution to community rail truly is ‘outstanding’.

“They work tirelessly to deliver extremely valuable projects that make a difference and deliver real benefits to the communities we serve and we look forward to continuing to support them in their aims. They’re always coming up with new ideas to attract people from all sectors of the community to enjoy train travel. My congratulations to them on this excellent and well-deserved achievement.”

Jools Townsend, chief executive of Community Rail Network, which runs the Community Rail Awards, said: ““Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership has delivered hugely diverse and vital activity over the past year. They are fully deserving winners of this award.”

“The Community Rail Awards give deserved recognition to community rail partnerships, groups and volunteers across Britain. We were thrilled to welcome more than 430 guests, alongside ministers and rail industry leaders, emphasising the great value of community rail, helping to build stronger, fairer, greener communities, served and connected by their railways and wider sustainable transport network.

“Despite another challenging year, the array of entries defied expectations, showing how community rail continues to strive to help people get the most from their railways and stations, and impact positively on local places and people’s lives.

“Our congratulations go to all our winners, and thanks to everyone who supports community rail, helping the movement to go from strength to strength.”

Community rail partnership

Above: Left to right: Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership Officers June Povey, Terri Ryland, Catherine Gaywood and Jayne Sumner. Credit: Greater Anglia