We were lead partner in the EU Citizens’ Rail project, which ran from 2012 to 2015. The project worked in five regions in North West Europe to put into practice the ‘community rail’ approach developed in the UK over the past 20 years.
In the South West, the project focused on The Riviera Line (Exeter-Paignton). Our local partners – Devon County Council, Torbay Council, Great Western Railway (GWR) and Plymouth University – worked with partners from France, Germany, the Netherlands and Lancashire to plan and deliver:
The project helped to fund additional services between Newton Abbot, Torre, Torquay and Paignton – providing two trains an hour during most of the day each weekday. Launched in December 2013, the success of the additional services has been such that the government has committed to continuing them into the future. Read more.
Stations all along the Riviera Line benefited from improvements. By the end of the project, 60% of passengers rated Riviera Line stations as good or fairly good. There was a particular focus on Exeter St Thomas and Torre, which received new waiting shelters, ticket machines and CCTV, a new eco garden at Exeter St Thomas and benches and gardening with Robert Owen Communities at Torre. See photos.
A Riviera Line officer was employed at the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership to engage local residents, businesses and passengers. This led to the formation of new Friends of the Station volunteer groups, a line forum, and taster rail trips for hundreds of school children. Read more.
The project also had unexpected spin-offs thanks to the high level of collaboration between the partners. This included a pair of international student masterclasses that allowed Plymouth University students to work with their peers from each country on fresh ideas for station improvements and rail marketing.
One of the students’ ideas from the marketing masterclass was implemented within just three months by the Partnership and GWR – the promotion of scenic branch line trips on the Wi-Fi welcome screen on mainline trains.
Read more about Citizens’ Rail on the project’s website.