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Community Rail routes

Community Rail benefits local railway lines, services and stations by giving local people more of a say

We’re always willing to discuss ideas for potential Community Rail projects. We ask: does the idea benefit the local community and is the local community supportive?

If the suggestion is beneficial, feasible and can be funded, we can take it further. In assessing a Community Rail project we come together with all stakeholders to look at whether or not we can operate the local railway line sustainably.

We strive to bring operational outgoing costs and income closer together. In managing the lines, we take care not to over-service them, so they remain efficient and cost-effective.

Interested in helping to run your local railway? See if there’s a Community Rail Partnership near you

How to develop a Community Rail route

The changes you’ll see

Railway lines joining a Community Rail Partnership, and train services designated Community Rail services through train operating companies (TOCs), will see a range of benefits:

  • bespoke solutions for Community Rail lines
  • greater involvement of the local community in the timetable and fares
  • more local decision-making on connections policies
  • examination of standards on infrastructure maintenance and renewal, to help make the lines sustainable
  • easier and cheaper station development, more appropriate to the local environment
  • minor changes to stations, such as relocating facilities
  • innovative approaches to disabled access at stations
  • risk-based approach to infrastructure enhancements to find lower cost solutions
  • removal of European interoperability standards for infrastructure.

If a line is designated as a Community Rail route, the local area could see an increased focus on promoting the line and raising its profile locally and in the railway industry as a whole.

Community Rail routes encourage train companies, Network Rail, local authorities and the local community to work together to make the most out of the opportunities provided by the railway.

Benefits of Community Rail designation

When a line is designated as a Community Rail route, more power passes to train companies to change timetables and fares in consultation with the Community Rail Partnership, and there are opportunities to flex contractual requirements so that the service can be delivered in the most cost-effective way.

Designation brings the opportunity for the partnership to work on service improvements such as enhancements to stations, changes to the timetable, new fares structures and promotional activity, within the Community Rail framework. This means there’s greater flexibility to deliver change, and changes should happen faster.

Designation does not come with any funding but the partnership approach enables funders to come forward.

Association of Community Rail Partnerships: station adoption, Community Rail projects and events

Who owns and runs the Community Rail line?

The railway infrastructure of a Community Rail line is still owned by Network Rail. One of the rolling stock leasing companies (ROSCOs) will usually own the trains that run on the line, but creative approaches to this are encouraged where costs can be reduced.

The train company that holds the local franchise runs the stations and trains, and is responsible for day-to-day station maintenance unless it has sub-contracted this to save costs.

Community Rail information on Gov.uk