PEOPLE are being urged to get involved with a new Worcestershire Community Rail Partnership (CRP) which has been launched to promote local railway networks and stations.
The new partnership is encouraging communities, businesses and those responsible for tourist attractions to work with the rail industry and local councils to highlight Worcestershire’s rail services.
The groups can put on gardening projects, art displays and use stations for a range of public events.
They can also work to combat issues, such as crime and anti-social behaviour, by giving local communities a sense of pride and ownership of their station.
CRPs in other parts of the company have helped make stations more attractive places to be and even had social and economic benefits by increasing footfall.
Working together on the CRP is the West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE), West Midlands Railway, Worcestershire County Council, CrossCountry Trains, Great Western Railway and the Cotswold Line Promotion Group.
The partnership covers 18 stations across Worcestershire, including Bromsgrove, Droitwich, Hagley, Barnt Green and Alvechurch.
Campaign for Rail member Peter Chapman has been appointed as the community rail officer and he will be tasked with focusing a work programme solely on the Worcestershire Community Rail Partnership.
Tony Woodward, the chairman of Bromsgrove Rail User Group, was one of the two founders of the partnership.
He said the group would be setting up station adoption groups to bring about a raft of improvements to them.
Fay Easton, head of stakeholder and community for West Midlands Railway, said: “I am thrilled the Worcestershire CRP venture is now formally launched and I am certain its members will make a real impact to railway communities across the county.
“Through the work of CRPs we are focused on bringing community rail activities to many of our local stations, urban and rural, to help enhance platforms, promote economic development and tackle social issues such as loneliness.
“Our army of committed station adopters run many successful projects across our 114 stations in the West Midlands and I am excited that Worcestershire CRP will support and develop the fantastic schemes already happening on our network.”
Jools Townsend, chief executive of the national Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP), said: “Community rail partnerships are the backbone of the community rail movement, bringing together local groups and partners along railway lines to work with industry, and delivering a range of community engagement and promotional activities.
“Our 67 CRP members promote understanding of the importance of local railways, in terms of improving mobility and sustainable travel, community cohesion and well-being, and social and economic development.
“We are pleased to see the formation and launch of this new community rail partnership and look forward to working with the partnership and its members across Worcestershire.”
Malcolm Holmes, executive director WMRE said: “WMRE is delighted to be supporting the Worcestershire CRP.
“The railways are all about people and we strongly believe that the needs of the community should shape what the railway offers.
“Community Rail Partnerships are an excellent way of integrating these community needs into the local rail network.
“Worcestershire is a great county to live, work and visit and the railway plays a hugely important role in accessing the towns and city for employment, education, leisure and tourism.”