CRL - Community Rail Lancashire

What is Community Rail

This page will give you an insight to exactly what a community rail partnership is, what community rail is all about and what community rail designation means.

What is a Community Rail Partnership?

In November 2004 Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Transport unveiled the Community Rail Development Strategy, which was produced by the Strategic Rail Authority and provided a framework for developing, and securing the future of, local and rural railways.

The strategy, reviewed in March 2007, is designed to involve local people in the development and running of local and rural routes, services and stations and has four key aims:

+  to  increase revenue;
+  to reduce costs;
+  to increase community involvement; and
+  to support social and economic development.

Community rail lines and services are part of the commercial rail network, with services operated by the train operating companies and infrastructure owned and maintained by Network Rail. Although many provide a tourism service they are largely distinct from heritage and private railways that have been reopened as tourist attractions.

There are over 60 community rail partnerships throughout the country and these partnerships are part of a federation that is overseen by the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP), an organisation that is sponsored by the Department for Transport.

A community rail partnership is just what is says – a partnership between Network Rail, the train operating company, local council, other community organisations such as rail user groups and other stakeholders and supported by ACoRP and the DfT, working to improve their community rail lines, stations and services. There is also a host of volunteers (around 3,200) who contribute around 250,000 hours of work each year at their local station and community bringing in about £3.4 million of extra value to the rail industry.

Community Rail Designation

The Community Rail Strategy allows the Department for Transport (DfT) to ‘designate’ certain rail lines and services as ‘Community Railways’. Designation is a formal process that involves a proposal, a route prospectus and final approval by the Minister and gives notice that the Government has recognised that the line, or service, can be given certain understandings within the national rail network. There are a number of criteria that have to be met before designation can be approved and these are explained below.

Designations are intended to clarify expectations and aspirations for the line.

Designation can be either ‘Line’ or ‘Service’; most are both for at least part of the route.  ‘Service’ is generally used where there is heavy freight use or the line is part of a ‘Trans European Network’ (TEN) route.

Line Designation identifies the line as:

+  primarily local in nature and is intended to take it outside the scope of EU conventional rail interoperability regulations;
+  one which is primarily low speed with light use on which it is appropriate to review maintenance practices and standards; and
+  one carrying designated services.

Service Designation changes the approach to franchise management, with more freedom given to the train operator working with the local community rail partnership. Service designation would include relevant stations, i.e. stations that are exclusive to the designated service and generally local in character.

The Department for Transport has designated a number of routes as ‘Community Railways’ and the lines and services designated to date can be seen by clicking HERE.

As can be seen from the list of thirty five designations there are five in Lancashire.

The East Lancashire Line has Line Designation between Gannow Junction and Colne and Service Designation for the full route from Preston to Colne. All the stations on the route, excluding Preston but including Burnley Manchester Road (on the Leeds/York route), are included in the designation.

The Clitheroe Line has Service Designation for the route Clitheroe to Manchester Victoria and includes all the stations on the route except Manchester Victoria itself.

The South Fylde Line has Line Designation from Kirkham North Junction to Blackpool South and Service Designation for the service from Preston to Blackpool South. The designation includes all the stations on the route except Preston.

The West of Lancs Line has service designation from Preston to Ormskirk. All the stations on the route, excluding Preston are included in the designation.

The Bentham Line (Leeds, Lancaster & Morecambe) has service designation for the throughout journey. The stations Skipton and west, excluding  Carnforth & Lancaster are included in the designation.

Designation has certain responsibilities for the Community Rail Partnership (CRP) that include submitting Terms of Reference and Action Plan to the DfT, keeping it updated, and compiling reports that evidence the Action Plan’s successes (or failures).

One major bonus for a Community Rail Partnership that has designated lines (or services) is that they can bid for funding from the Designated (Lines) Community Rail Development Fund (DCRDF).