A campaign to encourage people to explore ‘Scenic Rail Britain’ was launched on the 17 May by the Association of Community Rail Partnerships and its members at train stations around the country. A new website, scenicrailbritain.com, blog and social media channels will offer inspiration and information to help tourists and day-trippers plan visits to epic landscapes, coastal scenes, historic sites and picturesque areas by train, particularly via Britain’s stunning and fascinating ‘community rail’ routes.
Scenic Rail Britain aims to help domestic and foreign tourists access some of the country’s hidden gems, while travelling sustainably and avoiding the stresses of driving. It highlights the huge range of landscapes, sights and attractions that can be enjoyed and accessed by train, including via the scores of lines that community rail partnerships work to promote and enhance.
As well as helping tourists access more of Britain through enjoyable, environmentally friendly means, tourism by rail makes a growing and vital contribution to local economies. Rail usage in this sector has increased by 30% over the last ten years, with approximately three million annual visitors using the train as part of their trip, adding £510m to the UK economy.
The campaign was launched through activities at train stations around the country by the Association of Community Rail Partnerships, main partner the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership and other community rail partnerships taking part in its annual ‘Community Rail in the City’ event. The event reached thousands of commuters with information on Scenic Rail Britain, and on some of Britain’s most scenic community railway lines. These included:
- Association of Community Rail Partnerships and the Poacher Line at Kings Cross, promoting Scenic Rail Britain and encouraging people to explore historic Lincolnshire by rail;
- Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership at Paddington, using Poldark to encourage people to visit Cornwall and explore the Duchy by train and other public transport.
- Barton to Cleethorpes and Yorkshire Coast Community Rail Partnerships at Manchester Piccadilly, encouraging visitors to travel by rail to the UK City of Culture 2017 and explore the area further.
- Three Rivers (Salisbury-Bursledon) with Isle of Wight and TransWilts Community Rail Partnerships at London Waterloo
- Wales and Borders community rail partnerships, with the Abbey Line community rail partnership (Watford–St Albans) and Marston Vale community rail partnership (Bletchley–Bedford), at Birmingham New Street, raising awareness of what there is to see and do within easy access of their lines.
- Penistone Line Community Rail Partnership (Huddersfield-Sheffield) at Leeds Station, promoting travel along their scenic and historic railway lines.
- Essex & South Suffolk, East Suffolk and Norfolk community rail partnerships at London Liverpool Street promoting travel by train across beautiful east of England.
- Bentham Community Rail Partnership (Leeds-Lancaster & Morecambe) at Lancaster Station promoting their award-winning Rail to Trail walking and cycling scheme linking stations on the line and their new mini-coach service from Bentham station through the Forest of Bowland AONB.
- Sussex Community Rail Partnership at London Blackfriars encouraging visitors to explore the historic county of Sussex by rail.
- Kent Community Rail Partnership at St Pancras International in London engaging visitors and raising awareness of travelling around historic Kent by rail.
Community rail partnerships work at grassroots level to engage local communities, help people to get the most from their railways, and promote rail as a key part of sustainable, healthy travel.
Jools Townsend, chief executive of the Association of Community Rail Partnerships, said: “We are excited to launch Scenic Rail Britain today with help from community rail partnerships across the country. This campaign is all about helping families, day trippers and foreign visitors explore our beautiful countryside and fascinating heritage through sustainable, scenic and non-stressful travel. Many people don’t realise the scope for seeing Britain’s stunning landscapes, pretty villages and historic sites by rail – and making use of our wonderful, often little-known, ‘community rail’ lines is a great way to do this. Anyone thinking of making a trip, or wanting to find out more about what’s on their doorstep, can check out scenicrailbritain.com, for practical tips, itineraries and inspiration.”
Richard Burningham, manager of the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership, said: “Scenic Rail Britain is a fantastic campaign that we’re proud to be launching along with community rail partnerships around the country. A lot of work has gone into the Scenic Rail Britain website to make sure it’s a useful and inspiring resource for tourists. The website particularly aims to encourage overseas visitors to get out of London! In Devon and Cornwall, we are doing a range of work to encourage more visitors to explore our beautiful countryside and coastline by rail, including launching the new Cornwall As Seen on Screen app with Visit Cornwall. Rail is simply a great way to explore the far South West, providing amazing views and experiences, and meaning you don’t spend your trip stuck in traffic.”
Jeremy Whitaker, Head of Commercial Development at Abellio, said: “We have some amazing scenery in Britain that takes in everything from gorgeous countryside, mountains and fells, to our rugged coastline and golden sandy beaches. The railway is a great way to explore some of our wonderful landmarks such as the Glenfinnan Viaduct or historic Ely Cathedral, enjoy stunning views of the Wirral peninsula, or appreciate scenic highlights such as the Norfolk Broads and the North Norfolk coast. This new website will really showcase some of these splendid rail routes and we are delighted to be involved in this exciting initiative.”