Rail campaign boost for rural tourism

A MAJOR community campaign has been launched to encourage scenic and sustainable tourism by rail.

The 'Scenic Rail Britain' initiative is the brainchild of the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) – supported by train stations around the country.

It aims to inspire tourists and day-trippers to visit to epic landscapes, coastal scenes, historic sites and picturesque areas by train.

Details of Britain's stunning and fascinating 'community rail' routes are included on a new website – www.scenicrailbritain.com.

    See also: Rural Services Network calls for better train services

Scenic Rail Britain aims to help domestic and foreign tourists access some of the country's hidden gems, while travelling sustainably and avoiding the stresses of driving.

As well as helping tourists access more of the countryside, tourism by rail makes a growing and vital contribution to local economies.

Rail usage in this sector has increased by 30% over the last ten years, with approximately three million annual visitors using the train as part of their trip, adding £510m to the UK economy.

It is also being promoted in major cities as a means of encouraging people to visit the countryside.

Community rail partnerships work at grassroots level to engage local communities, help people to get the most from their railways.

They also aim to promote rail as a key part of sustainable, healthy travel.

ACoRP chief executive Jools Townsend said: "This campaign is all about helping families, day trippers and foreign visitors explore our beautiful countryside and fascinating heritage.

He added: Many people don't realise the scope for seeing Britain's stunning landscapes, pretty villages and historic sites by rail.

"Making use of our wonderful, often little-known, 'community rail' lines is a great way to do this.

"Anyone thinking of making a trip, or wanting to find out more about what's on their doorstep, can check out scenicrailbritain.com, for practical tips, itineraries and inspiration."

There are more than 50 community rail partnerships around Britain, linking local communities with train operators and other local partners.

More than 1,300 smaller community rail groups, often involving volunteers, work to ensure train stations are welcoming and productive community hubs.

The campaign's main partner is the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership but other community rail partnerships are taking part too.

Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership manager Richard Burningham, said: "Scenic Rail Britain is a fantastic campaign that we're proud to be launching along with community rail partnerships around the country.

"A lot of work has gone into the Scenic Rail Britain website to make sure it's a useful and inspiring resource for tourists.

"The website particularly aims to encourage overseas visitors to get out of London."

Rail companies have also leant their support.

Jeremy Whitaker, head of commercial development at Abellio, said the railway was a great way to explore some iconic landmarks.

"This new website will really showcase some of these splendid rail routes and we are delighted to be involved in this exciting initiative."



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