Thousands encouraged to explore Britain by rail as part of nationwide tourism event


Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership joined forces with more than 30 other groups to showcase some of Britain’s most scenic train journeys and promote sustainable tourism by rail.

The group took part in ‘Community Rail in the City’, a flagship annual celebration, now in its ninth year, aimed at developing tourism and travel for recreation on Britain’s community rail routes, encouraging thousands of people to explore epic landscapes, coastal scenes, and sites of historic interest.

This year’s event saw 36 community rail partnerships and tourism partners – up from 24 groups last year – hosting activities at 20 mainline railway stations, including those in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.

Groups spoke to an estimated 75,000 people across the day, giving out goody bags and information promoting the tourism opportunities accessible via Britain’s expanding community rail network.

Highlights of the event included a ‘Highland Fling’ at Kings Cross, a countryside scene celebrating the 70th anniversary of National Parks at Waterloo, and an 18-foot replica of the Mayflower on display at London Liverpool Street.

Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership attended Cambridge Station, where they gave out their new leaflets. Produced in conjunction with South Cambridgeshire District Council, the leaflets cover the churches, pubs and nature reserves which are accessible from the train stations just one, two and three stops away from Cambridge. Their partners on the day were Shepreth Wildlife Park, celebrating the arrival of their two new Sumatran tigers, and offering a discount on entry to anyone who arrives by train.

Sarah Grove, Project Officer of the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership said: “Community Rail in the City is a great opportunity for us to promote our wonderful railway line to thousands of commuters and potential visitors. We highlight the fantastic things there are to see and explore, and encourage people to visit by rail rather than car. As well as being a more relaxing and pleasurable way to travel, visiting the area by rail benefits the local economy, and means less traffic, noise and pollution in our communities.”

Community rail partnerships work at grassroots level to engage local communities, help people to get the most from their railways, and promote rail as a key part of sustainable, healthy travel.

The event is organised by the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP), the umbrella body for community rail groups across Britain, which supports its members to work with partners to integrate rail travel into their area’s local tourism offer.

As well as helping people access more of Britain through enjoyable, environmentally friendly means, tourism by rail makes a growing and vital contribution to local economies. Rail usage in this sector has increased by 30% over the last decade, with approximately three million annual visitors using the train as part of their trip, adding £510m to the UK economy [1].

ACoRP’s chief executive, Jools Townsend, said: “We received a fantastic response to this year’s Community Rail in the City event, with a 50% increase in the number of our members taking part. Through this campaign, we work with community rail groups to promote exploration of historic, scenic Britain through our wonderful, often not-well-known, community railway lines. These lines take you off the beaten track, to some of our most amazing and fascinating destinations – and travel on them is especially rewarding, as these railways played a crucial part in our heritage, and bring you right into the heart of communities. Tourism by rail is great for families and holiday-makers as it’s more sustainable than driving and provides a critical boost to local economies.”

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