Rail is the backbone of public transport and the most efficient way to move significant flows of people and freight

The rail network has seen tremendous growth in recent years, with more passengers being carried than any time in the last 80 years. Many areas, however, still have a poor service or none at all. Stations can be unappealing places to linger while getting to and from them inconvenient.

Although big changes to rail services can take many years to plan and deliver - longer than anything else covered in this toolkit - that does not mean you shouldn’t get the ball rolling. Smaller improvements can be delivered quickly, particularly in relation to stations and promotion. Community partnerships can be key to securing change, whether by promoting services or campaigning for service improvements.

The best place to start is your local station and the stations part sets out ideas for:

  • station adoption and improvement - where community volunteers help care for their local station
  • Station Travel Plans - improving options for travelling to and from stations

While getting better rail services may take a bit more effort, it’s logically the next step and the services and partnerships part covers:

  • Community Rail Partnerships - an approach that brings train operators, local authorities and local communities together to promote particular rail lines or services, whether through better publicity or a wider range of tickets
  • improving rail services - getting services that are more frequent and faster, that operate for more of the day or week and that go to more places

Finally and up another level in terms of ambition are reopenings and the reopenings part covers:

  • station (re)opening - opening a new or disused station
  • line (re-)opening - restoring passenger services on freight or heritage line or rebuilding a railway

Many of these ideas will be linked, for example community groups that have spruced up their local station have then gone on to lobby for Sunday services. Getting freight back onto the railways is also worthy of consideration and is briefly covered in the managing freight and lorries section.

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