Community Rail Partnerships (CRPs) bring together local authorities, rail operators and community groups to work together to promote and improve rail services. CRPs can either cover lines or services. Where there is a branch line a CRP can cover it but where there is a local stopping service running on a line with longer distance passenger and freight services then the CRP would only cover the local service.
In many cases, CRPs were set up to protect branch lines from closure. Yet some have been so successful that passenger growth has been as high as 90% in just four years, such as on the Truro - Falmouth and Bristol - Severn Beach lines. Overcrowding has become a bigger threat and so the focus has often shifted to increasing the number of services and seats.
It’s not just about improving the services themselves. Other key activities for CRPs include:
- ticketing - such as a ‘carnet’ allowing you to buy ten single tickets at a discount or a railcard offering discounts (for example the Esk Valley railcard gives local residents 50% off)
- marketing - promoting rail services through local businesses, tourism associations, rail ale trails highlighting local pubs near stations, even vinyl wrap arounds on trains to promote the lines
- retailing - offering tickets such as carnets from local shops
- setting local funding and timetabling priorities - CRPs can help ensure local needs, for example ensuring timetables cater for school children
- engaging volunteers and local groups - CRPs can help bring together individual volunteers as well as local voluntary groups
More information and an up-to-date list of CRPs is available from the Department for Transport. The Association of Community Rail Partnerships is the national organisation for CRPs and provides a wealth of further information as well as being the best first port of call for those wishing to set up a CRP.