Many small rural lines see resurgence in popularity19/08/2011
There has been a surge in the number of people using many small, rural rail lines, with passenger numbers on some routes almost doubling in the last few years, according to figures published by the Association of Train operating Companies (ATOC).
The rise in popularity of branch and Community Rail Partnership lines – smaller lines that branch off the mainline rail network into rural towns and villages – reflects the impact of the ‘staycation’ trend over recent years as people have increasingly chosen to holiday in the UK.
Many of the fastest-growing branch lines connect to seaside resorts and towns, and show spikes during the summer months.
However, train companies also report that growing numbers of local residents are opting to use trains that run on branch lines to get to and from work or simply to get out and about.
Local and rural rail journeys now total around 40million a year.
Community Rail Partnerships, which comprise operators, the voluntary sector and local authorities in an area, have also had considerable success in promoting smaller community lines, providing better rail services and helping rural regeneration.
From April 2007 to April 2011, passenger journeys from:
- Truro to Falmouth branch line rose by 91% (by 22% in the last year)
- Bristol to Severn Beach branch lines rose by 90% (by 19% in the last year)
- Derby to Matlock branch line rose by 86% (by 20% in the last year)
Edward Welsh, Director of Corporate Affairs at ATOC, said: “The staycation trend that has seen more people holiday in the UK over recent years has undoubtedly played a big part in the significant increases that we have seen on many of these small, rural lines.
“But a combination of reliability, value for money, comfort and better promotion have contributed to increasing numbers of local people using branch lines as a way to get out and about throughout the year.
“The resurgence of many of these lines is good news for rural economies. Having a rail link that brings hundreds of thousands of people a year into towns and villages helps to ensure vibrant and thriving rural economies.”
Neil Buxton, General Manager at the Association of Community Rail Partnerships, said: “Community Rail Partnerships are the Big Society in action – communities working with the railway industry and local authorities to revitalise their local rail services. A recent ACoRP report has shown that every £1 invested in a Community Rail Partnership can bring £4.60 in benefit and that Community Rail volunteers bring an astounding £27m added value to the rail industry. Community Rail is a real success story in bringing new life to local lines.”
So there you have it. Just imagine how flourishing the towns and villages would be along the S&D had it not been idiotically closed in the 1960s. And how those same towns and villages will be crying out for the rebuilding of their railway, especially when the price of oil begins to raise petrol and diesel prices from their currently ludicrously low levels.
So let's get on with it!!