Toolkit offers ideas for communities to boost sustainable travel and act on the climate emergency
Communities looking to enhance sustainable and healthy travel, as part of efforts to boost mobility and help tackle the climate emergency, are to be given a helping hand by a new free guide.
‘Connected stations’ offers ideas and resources to support community-led ‘station travel planning’, linking stations and railways with walking, cycling and other public, community, or shared transport. The aim is to make sustainable travel more integrated, attractive, and accessible for everyone, at a time when transport has become the biggest source of carbon emissions.
The toolkit has been produced by the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP), the umbrella body for groups working within community rail, with support and input from West Midlands Trains. It will be available to ACoRP’s growing membership of around 300, and promoted to other community groups and organisations via rail industry and third sector partners.
Station travel planning explores and develops the best possible package of environmentally friendly travel options to and from stations, by identifying and overcoming barriers and bringing partners together to deliver positive change. It can result in an increase in greener journeys that benefit individuals, their communities and the environment, via a shift away from car use, reduced emissions, and more people being able to access travel opportunities via healthier means.
Travel plans can act as a focal point in bringing partners together, maximising resources, attracting funding, and involving communities in the creation of local sustainable transport networks that meet their needs and enhance wellbeing and inclusion.
The toolkit offers ideas on how to engage local people, analyse data and undertake research, build up an action plan, and deliver projects and positive impact. Produced in consultation with experts across the sustainable travel field, it offers guidance on improving walking, cycling, public and community transport and shared travel connections, supported by case studies and expert advice.
Community rail is a grassroots movement spanning Britain made up of more than 70 community rail partnerships, which work along railway lines or across counties, and over 1,000 station friends and other local groups, all aiming to connect communities with their railways. Many are already involved in promoting and enhancing sustainability and healthy and active travel.
Jools Townsend, chief executive of ACoRP, said: “Communities of all types and sizes are increasingly keen to improve sustainable travel, to help address the climate emergency, and enable more people to get around via healthy, non-polluting means. A big part of this is integrating rail, bus, walking and cycling, to ensure that alternatives to driving work well together, and work for everyone.
“Our members form a growing network of community partnerships and volunteers, connecting local people to their railways. They are already working hard to promote and improve access to rail locally. We hope this toolkit will help them do more, to connect rail with other sustainable and active travel modes. But we also encourage other community groups and local authorities to make use of this resource. If we’re to tackle the climate crisis, and build a sustainable and inclusive transport network, then working together, and engaging and listening to local people, is crucial.”
Jon Harris, integrated transport, accessibility and development manager for West Midlands Trains, added: “We are delighted to have played a key role in the development of this guide, which will help make station travel planning accessible for everyone. The work ACoRP has done will allow us to offer support to communities to improve stations of any size and in any location. Having a tool that’s easy to use, adaptable and scalable will help unlock community potential and provide the evidence required for local authorities, rail operators and stakeholders to build consensus about how their stations can evolve and develop.
“The most successful station travel plans happen when the local community really believes in them and we’ve seen this already with town and parish councils taking ownership of surveys, audits and the overall process on West Midlands Railway and London Northwestern Railway networks. You’ll see other examples from all around the UK in the guide, and we encourage community rail partnerships, community groups, councils and other stakeholders to pick up the toolkit and see how it could benefit them.”
To access the toolkit, visit the ACoRP website at communityrail.org.uk/
Photo credit: Association of Community Rail Partnerships