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  • Community Rail

    We work with local communities to provide the rural and local railways that are so important to the communities they serve

  • What is Community Rail?

    Community Rail involves local people in the development and promotion of local and rural routes, services and stations. It also encourage the community to get directly involved improving the railway environment through use of redundant buildings, provision of additional services such as cafes and the improvement of railway land.

    In most respects, community rail routes are no different from the rest of the railway. They remain connected to the national rail network. Train Operating Companies run trains and stations. Network Rail maintains the track, signals, bridges and tunnels. What sets them apart is their Rail Partnerships, which work with the rail industry and local authorities to help market the line and to improve stations, train services, bus links and access, all of which help to increase passenger numbers.

    Network Rail works with over 60 of these community rail partnerships to provide the rural and local railways that are so important to the communities they serve. Together, we aim to increase passenger numbers and freight use and improve the revenue and efficiency of services.

    Community Rail is a Government strategy supported by the rail industry. Network Rail believes that it is one of the tools that will help to provide a long-term future for our railways and is keen to work with stakeholders to implement the strategy.

    Community Rail Designation

    The Department for Transport has designated a number of routes as ‘Community Railways’. 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
    • 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. Lines and Services designated to date can be seen in Community Rail routes. 

    Designated Community Rail Development Fund: The Department for Transport, Network Rail and the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) have established a fund to help to support initiatives on designated community rail routes. The fund is administered by ACoRP (contact them at and applications should be made by Community Rail Partnership Officers responsible for officially Designated Community Rail routes.