Plymouth’s rail partnership and tech whizzes team up to win national award

Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership staff pose with Elixel's Gavin Jones

A high tech heritage project born in Plymouth has picked up a national award.

The Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership, based at the University of Plymouth, teamed up with city digital agency Elixel to encourage more visitors to explore the branch line in South East Cornwall between Liskeard and Looe.

They created a free mobile phone app that celebrates the railway’s 160-year history. The app uses GPS to tell passengers the hidden stories behind the views as the train travels beneath the towering viaduct, calls at picturesque stations and meanders alongside the estuary. It even brings to life a talking portrait of Horace Holbrook, Superintendent of the Line in 1908, on new interpretation boards at Liskeard and Looe stations.

See the past, read the stories, explore the line

The project – which also includes a mini-website and video documentary – won “Best Marketing Campaign” at the national Community Rail Awards held in Telford this month in front of an audience of more than 400 rail industry, community and government representatives. The Partnership also picked up two further awards in the Community Engagement and Community Art categories – find out more.

Richard Burningham, Manager of the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership, said:

“The Looe Valley Line isn’t just one of Cornwall’s most scenic branch lines – it also has a fascinating history. We’ve really enjoyed bringing this to life using new technology, and it’s great to see the project receive national recognition.”

Gavin Jones, Managing Director of Elixel, said:

“The Looe Valley Line Heritage App project has been a great opportunity to showcase how digital can be used to enhance the visitor experience on the line without distracting from the region’s beautiful countryside. Whether we are offering insight into the haunted history of one of the platforms, highlighting what birds you might be able to spot on the estuary or using augmented reality to bring the history of the line to life.”

The next phase of the project will see a new heritage centre developed at Platform 3 of Liskeard station, to be opened in 2020.

The Community Rail Awards, now in its 15th year, is organised by ACoRP, the Association of Community Rail Partnerships.

The Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership is a non-profit partnership between local authorities, the rail industry and the University of Plymouth. It works to promote use of the region’s local lines and seeks improvements to service and facilities to boost the local economy and to link the community and the railway.

The heritage project was made possible by funding from GWR’s Customer and Communities Improvement Fund and the Designated Community Rail Development Fund, a joint initiative of the Department for Transport and ACoRP, the Association of Community Rail Partnerships.


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