Hundreds of community rail volunteers and local partnerships poised to play a key role in Midlands and East of England’s recovery.
Members of a grassroots rail movement – including in Beeston have continued to strive for communities in the Midlands and East of England towards a greener transport future, despite the pandemic.
Figures from Community Rail Network’s Community Rail in the Midlands and East briefing, which came out on 24 March, sponsored by Rail Delivery Group highlight that more than 8,000 volunteers give 37,000 hours annually to improve social inclusion and wellbeing, promote sustainable and healthy travel, and support economic development and tourism in their local area, valued at £3.1 million.
Working with the region’s 13 community rail partnerships and 160 station groups, they engage local people with their railways and stations, working with train operators, local authorities, and other partners. Activities include volunteering, community gardening and biodiversity projects at stations; community arts and heritage projects; work with rail industry partners towards improvements and integration, such as shelters, signage, pedestrian and cyclist access; and events, workshops and activities to promote sustainable travel, bring people together, and celebrate the local community.
Community rail is now looking forward to playing a pivotal role in building back better from Covid, and helping our railways to be a vital component of a greener, more inclusive way forward as part of a ‘green recovery’.
In Beeston, the Friends of Beeston Station work towards improving the look and feel of the Station and its surroundings and have spent several years now placing planters full of flowers along the Platform 1 railings and have placed 14 large photographs of transport in Beeston on Platform 2. This has transformed the platforms and made them so much more inviting and friendly.
In addition, the group has worked with the Broxtowe Borough Council creating bee-friendly gardens around the car park, and worked with the Beeston Business Park to place some much needed seating on areas near the entry to Platform 2.
Commenting on the importance of the community rail movement in the Midlands and East of England, Jools Townsend, chief executive of Community Rail Network, said: “Community rail works to make our railways community-minded and inclusive, and promotes sustainable travel by rail, bringing people together and bolstering local pride and wellbeing. In the Midlands and Anglia, community rail partnerships and groups have adapted and responded, supporting communities through the pandemic, maintaining positivity, and advising rail partners on shifting local needs.
“As we start to rebuild from Covid-19, within the community rail movement, and across our railways, we will be redoubling efforts, to create confidence and togetherness, and play our part in enabling more people to get around by socially and environmentally responsible means. Community rail is all about communities and connectedness, and people working together locally to make things better for each other and our shared future – that couldn’t be more important right now.”
Friends of Beeston Station are Part of the Community Rail Network communityrail.org.uk