Love the railway – Heart of England Community Rail Partnership

The Heart of England Community Rail Partnership helps improve the railway across areas including some of Britain’s most picturesque areas and best-loved tourist attractions.

It’s one of about 70 Community Rail Partnerships across the country, all working closely with their local areas to ensure communities get the most from their railways.

The Heart of England Community Rail Partnership covers 36 stations across three lines serving a diverse range of stations, from rural to larger urban.

It includes railways operating between Birmingham, Coventry, Nuneaton, Leamington Spa, Warwick and Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Get involved in Community Rail

We’re proud to support Community Rail – a scheme that benefits local railway lines, services and stations.

It’s a great opportunity for you to get involved with improving the railway environment by using redundant buildings and providing services such as cafes.

You can take part in things like volunteer groups at stations, social enterprises and projects to create community hubs.

Platform and a train at Stratford-Upon-Avon station, daytime
Stratford-Upon-Avon railway station

At the Heart of England

This Community Rail Partnership runs through some of the country’s most popular destinations – ‘Shakespeare land’ Stratford-Upon-Avon along the banks of the River Avon and Warwick Castle.

You’ll also find its stations in the Regency splendour of Leamington Spa and even at the gateway to air travel at Birmingham International.

Community Rail plays an important role in encouraging local people to use their railway stations and take part in activities and initiatives that aim to improve facilities, connections and information for passengers and residents.

The Heart of England Community Rail Partnership works with Rail User Groups to help in this valuable contribution. Rail User Groups are volunteer organisations made up of passengers to represent those who use train services. The Heart of England Community Rail Partnership collaborates with Coventry Rail Action Group, Shakespeare Line Promotion Group, Solihull and Leamington Rail User Association.

The partnership also works with Station Adoption Groups, which it says are “the eyes and the ears of the railway”. It says: “From planting beautiful gardens to restoring waiting rooms to their former glory, the work that these groups do is invaluable.”

Heart of England highlights

The events of the past year “could have so easily de-railed the ambitions” of the Heart of England Community Rail Partnership, its chair Margaret Smith said in its annual report. But it thrived with the help of its community supporters.

She said: “The positives of 2020 – an increased sense of community and a willingness to help others – have been witnessed in abundance across our network. Existing volunteer groups have continued their efforts and new groups have been established, a remarkable achievement given the backdrop of national and local restrictions.”

Here are just some of its stories …

In February, it was invited to host a virtual exhibitors booth at Warwick District Council’s Spark 2021 event showcasing creative talent in Warwickshire. The partnership hosted a session about creativity and the railways, and how it can use its stations to represent local artists.

In January, it launched a Small Grants Fund open to all Station Adoption Groups in its area and designed to help volunteers with some of the smaller costs associated with helping at stations. It simplified the applications process, meaning Station Adoption Groups don’t need a separate bank account to apply.

Meanwhile, it’s working with Visit Warwickshire and the Canal and River Trust to explore ways to link the railway, walking routes and waterways along the Shakespeare Line. It’s hoped this will encourage tourism to local attractions and businesses through sustainable travel.

Coventry is the City of Culture for 2021 so the partnership is with dynamic theatre company Highly Sprung Performance Co. to create a community-led performance piece.

In September, the Heart of England Community Rail Partnership and mental health and wellbeing charity The Kaleidoscope Plus Group teamed up for #CoventryActsOfKindness at three stations in Coventry. The partnership said: “Community spirit around the country has been fantastic during the lockdown and as a Community Rail Partnership, we want to keep that particular positive legacy from the crisis going.”

Read more: