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Posts Tagged ‘railway’

Community Rail Partnerships: Super-Local Economies

Posted in Models, Movements by Kate Archdeacon on June 2nd, 2011


From “Community railways are on the right track” by Paul Salveson:

Community rail partnerships have transformed many of Britain’s local railways, and not just rural branch lines transporting tourists through some of our most scenic countryside. The partnerships cover around 60 lines, some of them urban routes in major cities where community rail is playing a role in urban regeneration. They bring together train operators, Network Rail, local authorities and more than 100 “station friends” groups and community groups that promote lines which were threatened with closure.

Many of the lines have experienced double-digit growth, thanks to imaginative promotion and community involvement, backed up by modest investment. Stations have experienced a new lease of life through community adoption, including a social enterprise which runs the booking office of a formerly unstaffed rural station. Railways minister Theresa Villiers has praised the “ideas, innovation and enthusiasm” of community rail partnerships. And their services could be in more demand than ever, following last month’s government-commissioned report into rail industry costs by Sir Roy McNulty. He called for £1bn in costs to be stripped out of the industry and, while not recommending line closures, he floated the idea of phasing out ticket offices in small stations. But as local authorities face hard decisions over budgets, some of these partnerships have already had their funding reduced and train operators are unable to make up the shortfall.

The Severnside Community Rail Partnership covers local routes in the Bristol area, including the branch to Avonmouth and Severn Beach. It runs through some of the most deprived parts of the south-west. The partnership is working to make stations more friendly and welcoming and to reduce crime, vandalism and antisocial behaviour. “Better stations, with community involvement, encourage more people to use the train,” says Keith Walton, the partnership’s chair.

Stapleton Road station, on the Severn Beach line has been transformed through community involvement and boasts a mural celebrating the communities served by the station. Alongside the station is Roots, a community-run garden centre, located on formerly derelict railway land. The partnership worked with Network Rail to clear up the area and it is now a flourishing example of social enterprise. At other stations along the line school students have created artwork which has transformed the appearance of what were once run-down, depressing eyesores. The partnership has also worked with the Probation Service in using offenders to help with environmental projects. The local “community payback” team has cleared decades of accumulated debris at stations prior to community groups moving in to plant the areas with shrubs and flowers.

Read the full article (there’s a lot more) by Paul Salveson on The Guardian.

Persuading your local train station to plant fruit trees

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on March 22nd, 2010

Source: The Ecologist

From “Persuading your local station to plant fruit trees” by Laura Laker

Armed with just a good idea and big dose of enthusiasm you can transform a bleak area into a mini orchard. Plus, the best way to approach a station manager…

When I approached Harringay Green Lanes station in September I never expected either to be as lucky as I was, or the interest my idea of growing food at stations would generate.  Having worked all over London, I’ve spent a lot of time waiting for trains at the city’s drab, grey, open-air waiting rooms. A couple of years ago I found myself at a particularly bleak North London station, hemmed in with high walls.  All that greeted the weary commuter was an array of flat, grey surfaces, topped with an often grey sky. Looking at the forlorn planters around me I felt strangely inspired.

Then last summer I joined Transition Town Finsbury Park (TTFP), a group in its early stages, focusing on local food production. The idea behind Transition Towns is that groups form to improve local sustainability, tackling issues such as food, transport and waste, to mitigate the effects of Peak Oil on their communities.  The support of the group gave me the courage to follow my idea, and less than a week after a living-room meeting with three encouraging Transitioners I was approaching local stations. At the first, a staff member looked at me as if I’d suggested lining the platforms with ornamental teapots.

Later that day I knocked at the portacabin door of Harringay Green Lanes Station. I was met by station supervisor, Sharma, who invited me in for a cup of tea. Looking around the station, I realised how much potential there was, namely in a strip of land about three metres wide running along the north of the site.  It was no plush meadow by anyone’s standards, overshadowed by the eastbound platform and covered in long grass and well-established buddleia, but I saw an opportunity to show passers-by it is possible to grow food even in unlikely places….

Read the full article by Laura Laker on the Ecologist.