Community Rail

We work with local people to provide railways that are vital to thriving communities.

What is Community Rail?

Community Rail is a government strategy supported by the rail industry. It engages local people in the development and promotion of local and rural routes, services and stations.

It also encourages the community to get directly involved in improving the railway environment through the use of redundant buildings, provision of additional services such as cafes and the improvement of railway land.

Community Rail routes remain connected to the national rail network, and train operating companies run the trains and stations. We maintain the track, signals, bridges and tunnels.

Community Rail Development Strategy

The Community Rail Development Strategy – produced by the Strategic Rail Authority – provided a framework for developing and securing the future of local and rural railways when it was unveiled in November 2004 (and has since been reviewed in 2007).

The Community Rail strategy aligns with our approach to social performance, and is a key part of our commitment to connecting people and transforming communities.

Designed to involve local people in the development and running of local and rural routes, services and stations, the strategy has four key aims:

  • to increase revenue
  • to reduce costs
  • to increase community involvement
  • to support social and economic development.

Community Rail Partnerships

The routes are supported by local Community Rail Partnerships – groups of committed and dedicated people who work with the rail industry and local authorities to promote the line and improve stations, train services, bus links and access.

These partnerships have often been developing over many years. The first groups were created in the early 1990s by independent volunteers setting up activities at neighbouring stations, benefiting their local railway line as a whole.

These were eventually pulled together under one organisation. The Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) as it stands today was established in 2000 – liaising between Community Rail Partnership members, national and local government and the rail industry to support Community Rail initiatives at grassroots level.

Together, we’re improving the efficiency and revenue of services, as well as increasing passenger numbers and freight use. We believe that it's one of the ways we can support local communities and help to provide a long-term future for our railways.

Community Rail routes: benefits and how to set one up