The Severnside Community Rail Partnership was formed in 2004. We work with local communities, local authorities and the rail industry to improve local stations and train services. We are set up as a Community Interest Company. Our running costs are funded by the rail industry and the local authorities. Projects are funded directly by the Partnership, supplemented by specific grants from a variety of sources, and considerably assisted by local and community voluntary work.
Our team comprises of one full-time employee – our Partnership Officer, and several part-time employees who deliver specific projects. More information about the organisation and structure of the Partnership is available in our progress report.
Our key activity is working with communities to improve the local (and mainly unstaffed) stations – the shop window of the West of England rail network. Experience elsewhere showed that a key factor in improving stations was local community “ownership”. If local schools and youth groups displayed artwork at stations, and the community became actively involved with looking after and improving the station, then the stations became much friendlier, welcoming places. And this is what has happened in the West of England. Local stations have now been transformed.
When the Partnership was formed, most of the local stations were somewhat neglected – the paint was peeling, former gardens were derelict and often became the dumping ground for refuse; graffiti and petty vandalism were rife. Passengers often felt unsafe and intimidated using the stations, particularly at night. This needed to change! By and large the station infrastructure is still the same – but the stations are now cared for. More welcoming stations has been a significant factor in the tremendous increase in passengers over the years. In 2004 7.2 million passengers were using the local and regional trains; the most recent figures saw annual passenger figures reaching in excess of 12.5 million.