Published on: Tuesday, 19 October 2021
Last updated: Tuesday, 19 October 2021
PHOTO CALL: You are welcome to join us at 12.10pm at Beccles Station for photos of student and forum attendees with a large ‘Go Green by Train’ pledge card. For filming requests / interviews please contact the press office.
Rail organisations in East Anglia are joining a national campaign to encourage people to go green by train to help tackle climate change.
The inaugural Community Rail Week, being held from 18-24 October, involves hundreds of community rail partnerships and volunteer groups across Britain, running activities to promote their local railways, and giving communities and young people a voice on green transport.
In the East, the region’s community rail partnerships, supported by Greater Anglia, will be taking part in a range of activities to raise awareness of the difference that people can make by choosing to travel sustainably and encouraging people to make their own pledge to ‘Go Green by Train’.
They will also hold a series of events and activities including:
• On Friday 22 October, students from Suffolk One and Suffolk New College will travel by train from Ipswich to Beccles to take part in a Sustainable Transport and Climate Change forum with the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership, Greater Anglia, and local organisations to discuss the climate crisis and the part that sustainable travel can play in reducing carbon emissions.
• In Essex, the Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership will announce the winners of a ‘Go Green by Train’ art competition with local schools during Community Rail Week.
• In Cambridgeshire, the Hereward Line Community Rail Partnership will promote an Environmental Benefits Calculator developed in partnership with Fenland District Council to help local people plan more sustainable journeys.
• In Norfolk and North Suffolk, Community Rail Norfolk, through its Bittern Line and Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnerships, continues to champion environmentally sustainable rail travel throughout the Broads National Park and to North Norfolk’s Deep History Coast. It has committed over £120K this year towards promoting rail use and improving infrastructure for both regular passengers and visitors to the area. The Bittern Line Community Rail Partnership is working to reduce use of plastics and encourage wildlife friendly planting and the Partnership has recently worked with Sheringham Chamber of Commerce to create a discount scheme for rail users with offers available in over 35 shops and attractions.
• On the Wherry Lines, wildlife friendly gardens have been created at several locations and are maintained by a dedicated team of volunteers. At Lowestoft, the partnership has worked with both Greater Anglia and the award-winning Lowestoft Central Project to invest over 250K in recent years to restore and rejuvenate the country’s most easterly station, create a public exhibition space, install low energy lighting, improve secure cycle storage facilities, devise more integrated public transport connections and open a full time Tourist Information facility. Community Rail Norfolk are also currently negotiating to create a new urban wildlife reserve and community garden utilising a ½ mile stretch of redundant railway land.
With greener transport recognised as a fundamental part of the solution to the climate emergency, Community Rail Week and the ‘Go Green by Train’ campaign looks to drive change at community level through the efforts of 74 community rail partnerships and 1,000 station friends’ groups across Britain – including six partnerships and 120 station groups in the East – working to help people get out of their cars and onto trains and other sustainable modes.
Transport has a huge role to play if the UK is to reach its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 100% of 1990 levels, or ‘net zero’, by 2050. Figures show that:
• Transport is now the largest emitting sector in the UK, making up 27% of domestic emissions in 2019; 1
• Rail accounted for just 1% of domestic transport emissions in 2019, despite representing 10% of the total distance travelled, and is the greenest form of transport after walking and cycling; 2, 3
• One train can remove up to 500 cars off our roads; 4
• For a 30-mile journey, travelling by train instead of by car can reduce emissions by up to 86%. 5
Jools Townsend, chief executive of Community Rail Network, said: “As we approach the international climate talks in Glasgow, the community rail movement across the East is coming together to highlight the great importance of green travel at a local and global level. Transport is now the biggest contributor of UK greenhouse emissions, so we face a pressing challenge to decarbonise the way we get around, for the sake of future generations – plus the East’s communities can benefit now from reduced traffic and pollution. Rail, combined with buses, walking, cycling, and shared mobility, provides a huge part of the solution: shifting as many journeys as we can onto these modes, and reducing private car use, can help us forge a more sustainable, healthy, inclusive future.
“We’re excited to launch our first Community Rail Week with events and activities in communities across Britain, raising awareness and exploring how we can enable and empower more people to feel confident and able to go green by train.”
Aaron Taffera, Chair of the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership, who is hosting the event at Beccles, said, “It’s really important to us, and Greater Anglia as the rail operator, that we play our part in creating a more sustainable world for our young people to inherit.
“Taking the train, coupled with low-emission integrated transport options such as walking, biking or something like our new electric taxi bus, can make a huge difference to your carbon footprint and, along with Greater Anglia, we’re working hard to make sure it’s an easy, convenient and affordable option for people.”
Andy Bagnall, director general at the Rail Delivery Group, said: “Trains are inherently green so when people go by rail it’s more than a journey – it’s literally helping to save the planet!
“In future, we want trains to be the backbone of a decarbonised transport network so, as well as supporting initiatives like Community Rail Week, we want to work with government to reform ticketing and fares – if it’s easier for people to find and buy a good value ticket, more people will use rail as a green alternative to other ways of travelling.”
Community Rail Week is organised by Community Rail Network and sponsored by Rail Delivery Group.