As part of its commitment to community rail, SWR is delighted to have worked with SCRP to add a second officer to the established North Downs Line.

The line was initially setup using funding from GWR’s Customer and Communities Improvement Fund to cover stations between Gatwick and Guildford, before extending all the way up to Reading last year. The line officer, David Daniels, has already delivered many great projects including improving the provision of onward travel information and organising walks from stations to further promote sustainable travel. At the start of 2020, SWR, which has recently increased its funding of CRPs to encompass three additional partnerships, agreed to collaborate with SCRP to add a second officer to help spread the benefits of community rail much further, including a focus on its six stations along the line.

Although the post was initially advertised in February, the work on bringing a new person in was disrupted due to COVID-19. In light of this, SCRP’s Education Officer, Maddy Mills, has volunteered to take on the post on an interim basis. From 1 June, Maddy will work with the SWR team to identify new stakeholders to involve in the CRP, especially looking at how the railway can further support communities following the pandemic.

SWR’s Community Rail Manager, Andy Harrowell, said “We delighted to be able to collaborate with SCRP to spread the benefits of community rail to more of our stations, and feel this is even more important right now. While our focus remains on transporting key workers and those that need to travel, we must also look to the future and prepare to support local areas as life slowly returns to normal. It’s great to have Maddy on board to help us across these stations and I look forward to further discussing what can jointly be done along the line in the both the short term and beyond.”

Tim Barkley, the chair of the SCRP, added: “We are delighted that, with SWR’s great support, we are able to extend our work along the North Downs Line. Community has never been more important, and I know Maddy will work hard to develop relationships with existing and potential users of this vital transport link.”

This year, SWR provided almost £300,000 of funding between 11 CRPs:

Blackmore Vale (Tisbury to Crewkerne)
Devon & Cornwall (Axminster to Exeter)
East Hants (Liphook to Rowlands Castle)
Heart of Wessex (Weymouth to Bristol)
Hounslow and Richmond (Barnes to Feltham, via Brentford and Twickenham)
Isle of Wight (Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin)
Lymington to Brockenhurst
North Downs
Purbeck (Holton Heath to Moreton, including Swanage Railway)
Surrey Hills to South Downs (Haslemere to Farncombe)
Three Rivers (Salisbury to Bursledon / Winchester, via Romsey and Chandler’s Ford)

It also provides funding to the Community Rail Network to employ an officer dedicated to supporting its work to return redundant buildings back into spaces for community use. In addition, the Community Rail Network administers SWR’s fund for its station adopters, volunteers who undertake gardening or art displays, to support their efforts at over 50 locations across the network.

SCRP covers a number of lines, working with four different train operators across an increasingly large geographic area:

Arun Valley Line
Marshlink Line
North Downs Line
Uckfield/East Grinstead Line
Tonbridge/Reigate Line
Seaford-Brighton Line
Sussex Coast

It was one of the first CRPs to be accredited in 2019 and has an award winning education programme which provides travel training to thousands of primary school children each year.