A visit to Bradford will today kick off this year’s Community Rail Week which will urge people to ‘give the train a try’. Rail Minister Wendy Morton MP will travel from Bradford to Bingley with a South Asian women’s group to discuss their experiences of travelling by train.
At Bingley Station, she will meet the Action Stations group to see the work volunteers have been doing to put the railway at the heart of the area.
This includes things like a garden celebrating the Five Rise Locks, British Sign Language Boards and a book exchange.
The MP will also hear from the Leeds-Morecambe Community Rail Partnership about their efforts to make the Bentham Line the first dementia-friendly railway in Britain.
Community Rail Week, organised by the Community Rail Network and sponsored by the Rail Delivery Group, begins today (Monday), and runs until May 29.
The aim is to encourage those who rarely, or never, get on a train or bus to consider the benefits of making at least the occasional switch to rail travel.
Events and activities are planned nationwide to raise awareness about local railways, encourage more widespread use of rail – combined with buses, walking and cycling; build travel confidence among those who are less familiar, and encourage the switch from car to train.
While train travel is encouraged, issues with trains in the North are well documented.
Last week, Labour shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh contrasted rail service cuts in the North to improvements made in the South East and asked “what message” it sends.
The MP visited to Bradford to meet schoolchildren left “stranded” by cuts to Northern services.
For Jools Towsend, Chief Executive of the Community Rail Network, it’s vitally important to encourage and enable more people to travel sustainably by train.
She said: “Community rail has an inspiring track record of doing just that: promoting travel confidence and increasing access to opportunity, while bringing people together, giving communities a voice, and putting railways and stations at the heart of community life.
“Community rail partnerships and volunteers the length and breadth of Britain are this week mobilising en masse, engaging local people and partners to raise awareness about the importance of rail, and get people enthused about its benefits.
“We want to help people who feel less confident with train travel to give it a go, and get across the positive difference it makes switching even the occasional journey from car to public transport, for our planet, healthy living, and local communities.”