Southeastern awards £400,000 to new community rail schemes across Kent and East Sussex
• Five schemes to benefit from funding of new initiatives to boost tourism and spruce up stations
• Funding will boost volunteering and help groups make a contribution to the local community
• Two brand new schemes along the White Cliffs route and in Thanet will benefit alongside existing partnerships in Kent and East Sussex

Five new community rail schemes will be funded on the Southeastern network as part of its recent Direct Award contract announced by the Department for Transport in March.  A significantly expanded £400,000 funding pot for community rail has been made available over two years, to help roll out community rail activity to more areas across Kent and East Sussex.  As part of the increase in community rail activity, two new partnerships are to be established on the Southeastern network, including a new ‘White Cliffs Community Rail Partnership’ and a new ‘Thanet Community Rail Partnership’.  In addition to the two prospective Community Rail Partnerships (CRPs) which have received funding, three existing community rail partnerships – the Kent Community Rail Partnership, led by Sustrans, the Darent Valley Community Rail Partnership, and the Sussex Community Rail Partnership – have also been awarded funding to expand their activity to current and new community rail lines.

Chris Vinson, Senior External Communications Manager at Southeastern, said: “Community Rail Partnerships enrich the communities along the railway lines they adopt, helping to support tourism in the areas they serve, sprucing up stations with gardens and helping vulnerable groups volunteer and make a contribution to the local community.  We’re delighted that this funding will now ensure that the benefits of community rail go even further across our network.”

Tim Barkley, chair of the Sussex Community Rail Partnership, said: “We’re delighted to have been awarded the Hastings line to our portfolio. We already have a group on the Marshlink line, between Hastings and Ashford, and look forward to working with Southeastern and communities along the route to connect them to their local railway line.  It has been difficult during the past few months, but we are keen to promote public transport again, which in the long run we know is better for all of us.”

Jools Townsend, chief executive, Community Rail Network, said:
“Community rail is all about helping communities to get the most from their local railways and stations, advising railway partners on putting local needs at the forefront, and bringing people together.  This work is so important right now – to help communities recover and ‘build back better’ from Covid-19, and to ensure everyone can get around sustainably. We’re excited to see this investment in community rail from Southeastern, and looking forward to working with them and communities across their network.”