National recognition for Norfolk and Suffolk community rail projects

Published on: Tuesday, 30 January 2024
Last updated: Tuesday, 30 January 2024

 A Greater Anglia train passes over Somerleyton swing bridge

Above: A Greater Anglia train passes over Somerleyton swing bridge. Credit: Wherry Lines CRP

Rail projects designed to support and build links with local communities in Norfolk and Suffolk have been shortlisted for national awards.

Initiatives to support communities, encourage sustainable travel, and enhance public spaces, delivered by the Wherry Lines and East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnerships, are on the shortlist for the national Community Rail Awards.

The Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnership, which supports the lines from Norwich via the Broads National Park to the coast at Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, has been shortlisted along with the Lowestoft Central Project and Network Rail Anglia in the ‘Best Community Engagement Project’ category for organising heritage tours of the Somerleyton Swing Bridge.

The hugely popular tours of the historic railway swing bridge were arranged as part of the 2023 Lowestoft Heritage Open Days Festival.

It is also shortlisted for the ‘Most Effective Communications Campaign’ for promoting its Wherry 100 Summer Bus Service which saw the Wherry Lines and Acle based company, Our Hire Ltd, convey over 10,000 people last summer, connecting people using rail services to/from Great Yarmouth station with the town centre, seafront and Vauxhall Holiday Park.

Chair of the Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnership, Chris Mitchell, said

“Our aim is to build positive relationships and mutually beneficial links between our lines and the communities they serve, so we are absolutely delighted to see our efforts and the benefits they have delivered, shortlisted for these prestigious national awards.”

The East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership, which supports the lines between Ipswich and Lowestoft and Felixstowe, is shortlisted in the 'Community Creative Projects and Station Arts' category with Suffolk New College for an installation of artwork at Ipswich station’s footbridge.

The project saw art and design learners from the College help to revamp the older of the two footbridges at the station with a series of original artworks aimed at celebrating Ipswich and Suffolk.

Aaron Taffera, Chair of the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership, said,

“We are thrilled to be shortlisted for this project, which really helped to improve the appearance of the footbridge and gave young artists a platform to bring their talents to a wider audience.”

In addition, the Wherry Lines Lowestoft Central Project is a finalist in the prestigious Platinum Category of the ‘It’s Your Station Award’ for its ongoing efforts to rejuvenate Lowestoft station with a host of initiatives, including its operation of the Parcels Office Public Exhibition Space, Community Rail Shop and Tourist Information Centre, supporting refugee families to use the railway, the hosting of numerous events including craft fairs, evacuee reunions, visiting rail tours, exhibitions, meetings and a winter warm room initiative, and the installation of Kindertransport history panels. The project has also seen the creation of a Men’s Shed mental health project on the station’s former cattle dock.

Alan Neville, Greater Anglia’s Customer and Community Engagement Manager, said,

“We are really proud of our community rail partnerships and amazing station adopters and are thrilled that the work that they do across the region to support communities, promote sustainable travel and help our region’s branch lines to thrive has been shortlisted at the Community Rail Awards.”

The Community Rail Awards, now in their 19th year, recognise the important work carried out by an army of dedicated individuals, often volunteers, who work across Britain’s rail network to make stations welcoming spaces for passengers and visitors alike. Alongside this, many of the groups carry out vital community engagement work with schools, colleges, and other local groups to help educate and secure passengers of the future, which is critical to ensuring railways are an inclusive, sustainable, healthy way to travel.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Swansea on 18 March 2024.

Above: Suffolk New College students and staff with their art work at Ipswich station. Credit: Greater Anglia

Above: Suffolk New College students and staff with their art work at Ipswich station. Credit: Greater Anglia