The short list for the 2012 Civil Service Diversity & Equality Awards were announced at the end of last week and the Community Rail & Ambassador Project Teams, Department for Transport was in the short list in the ‘Understanding and Engaging with Communities Award’ category.
The Department for Transport’s (DfT) Community Rail Development Strategy is aimed at giving new life to our rural railways and seeks to make it easier for the rail industry and local communities to do more to ensure the long term health of their services.
Some of the Strategy’s key aims include increasing ridership, social and economic regeneration and greater involvement of the local community. The Ambassador project is an innovative travel awareness solution which meets these key aims and could potentially be used nationally.
Northern Rail in partnership with DfT, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and the East Lancashire Community Rail Partnership developed a scheme working with and supporting socially excluded and BME communities at four different locations. Though the railway is at the doorstep of many of these communities it is under utilised by many of them. To engage with these communities and better understand and then overcome barriers to local rail travel, Northern Rail recruited “ambassadors” from the actual communities.
Through this engagement process it was hoped to change attitudes to local rail travel which would attract new customers to rail thus making it more financially sustainable whilst helping to improve the quality of life of these communities.