What is accreditation?
As part of the 2004 Community Rail Development Strategy, community rail lines and services could be ‘designated’ by the Secretary of State. Designation was created as a system to enable community rail lines to be managed, marketed and supported, with the aim of identifying ways to reduce red tape and simplify processes relating to community rail lines. Although designation has not in practice been used to deliver all of the aims originally intended, it has allowed many community rail partnerships to access additional funding to kick start innovative projects, largely through the Designated Community Rail Development Fund. It has also on some occasions been the stimulus to the rail industry adopting more pragmatic solutions to address local needs. Most importantly, it has bestowed the status of being formally recognised by Government, which has been welcomed by community rail partnerships.
Consultation with the rail industry and beyond during the development of this new strategy showed a desire for designation in its current form to be replaced with something which focused more on being a mark of quality for community rail partnerships. As such, we will develop a system of accreditation for community rail.
Accreditation will build on the legacy of designation. It will:
+ Act as a trusted mark of quality for community rail groups.
+ Be developed as a brand that is recognised both within the rail industry and beyond, acting as a tool to assist community rail groups when engaging with new stakeholders both in local government and private industry. This in turn will help community rail groups to collaborate with new partners and diversify their funding bases.
+ Assist in creating opportunities to further develop community rail’s impact and to infuence unregulated fares.
This process will apply to community rail partnerships in England and Wales.
The Government will work with the Welsh Government, ACoRP and the National Community Rail Steering Group to design the application and monitoring processes for accreditation, which will ft, as far as possible, with existing community rail planning processes. They will be designed to promote good practice and will include regular reviews to ensure they uphold the appropriate standards. There will also be a process for removing accredited status from any groups that fall below the standards expected and where issues cannot be resolved. The Steering Group will also play a role in helping to build accreditation as a trusted mark of quality.