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2004-11-22 DfT-001
Department for Transport

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Transport Secretary launches new vision for rural railways


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Department for Transport



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Department for Transport

Transport Secretary launches new vision for rural railways
_______________________________________________________________


date
22 Nov 2004 00:00
source Department for Transport
type Press release



Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Transport, today unveiled the Community Rail Development Strategy, which aims to increase the number of passengers using rural rail lines.

The Strategy, produced by the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), provides a framework for developing local and rural railways. It sets out ways to secure the future of such lines, by increasing usage whilst reducing costs.

The publication of the strategy takes forward policy set out in the Government's recent 'Future of Rail' White Paper - which supports the development of rural rail lines and aims to put them on improved financial footing.

Alistair Darling said:

"Rural railways are important to many parts of the country. We want more people to use rural railway lines and the development of community railways is a vital part of that.

"The future of rural lines depends on effective partnerships between local authorities, community groups and, of course, passengers. The SRA's Community Rail Development Strategy clearly sets out how this can be achieved and the Government is extremely keen to see it implemented."

The strategy aims to improve the financial performance of lightly used lines - in order to increase the value for money and social value they offer. Central to the Strategy is the involvement of local communities in supporting and developing the lines. Increasing passenger volume through better marketing strategies is also an essential part of the plans. Costs can be reduced through ensuring that the lines are not 'gold plated' to the standards required for heavily-used or high-speed lines.

Chairman of the SRA, David Quarmby, adds:

"Too many empty seats are running up and down Britain's branch lines safely and reliably ... but expensively. This strategy charts a way both to grow income and to reduce costs. The prize is worth winning - a railway with a long term future that contributes more to the local economy, as well as to meeting Government targets on accessibility, the environment and social exclusion."

Fifty six routes across England and Wales are proposed to be designated as Community Rail lines. Seven of these lines have been selected as pilot projects - with each helping to develop a different aspect of the Strategy.

Notes to Editors

1. The Community Rail Development Strategy, which includes a list of the 56 lines proposed for Community Rail designation, can be viewed on the SRA website, www.sra.gov.uk

2. The publication of the strategy follows an extensive consultation by the SRA.

3. The seven chosen pilot schemes are:

* St Ives Bay Line (St Erth - St Ives, Cornwall)
* Looe Valley Line (Liskeard - Looe, Cornwall)
* Tamar Valley Line (Plymouth - Gunnislake)
* St Albans Abbey Branch (Watford Junction - St Albans)
* Grantham - Skegness Line
* Penistone Line (Sheffield - Huddersfield)
* Esk Valley Line (Middlesbrough - Whitby)

4. The Strategy applies typically to local and rural lines with relatively low speeds, where lightweight trains are used on an hourly frequency or less. These routes account for about 10.5% of the national network (1154 miles), including 390 stations. The strategy does not apply to lines in Greater London, Scotland, nor independent or heritage railways.

5. A model similar to the Community Rail proposals already operates within discrete areas of the Dutch and German rail networks.

6. The Strategy has been developed by the SRA in close partnership with the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP): www.acorp.uk.com

Public Enquiries: 020 7944 8300
Department for Transport Website: http://www.dft.gov.uk


Railhub Archive ::: 2004-11-22 DfT-001





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