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Prime Minister meets community rail groups

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Boris Johnson, whilst visiting the Yorkshire Region as part of the Integrated Rail Plan launch, got the chance to stop and meet community rail members.

Jools Townsend, chief executive of Community Rail Network, discussed the work of the growing community rail movement with the Prime Minister at Huddersfield station – a movement which now boasts 74 community rail partnerships and 1,000 station friends volunteer groups. She highlighted projects and progress in areas including engaging children and young people, promoting sustainable leisure travel by rail, social inclusion and wellbeing, and integration between trains, buses, walking, and cycling.

The Prime Minister also talked to volunteers from the Penistone Line Partnership, which covers the line from Huddersfield to Sheffield, via Barnsley, running activities including schools engagement, ‘Try the Train’ trips, and ‘Dwell Time’, an art and writing project promoting mental wellbeing. 

During his visit, the Prime Minister held up a pledge to ‘Go Green by Train’, the tagline for the first ever ‘Community Rail Week’, held last month in the build-up to COP26, supported by Rail Delivery Group.

Jules Townsend, Community Rail Network.

Jools said: “Community rail partnerships and station volunteers work tirelessly to help communities, railways, and transport, become more sustainable, inclusive, and caring, to bring people together and enrich lives. This was a brilliant opportunity to speak to the Prime Minister to inform him of the fantastic work going on across Britain, aligning with government objectives of adding social value, levelling up, and helping communities to build back better and greener. The PM seemed really impressed with the efforts being made by station volunteers and community rail partnerships to involve local people and ensure everyone can benefit from the rail network.”

With the Integrated Rail Plan at the forefront of everyone’s mind that day, Jools said: “We welcome the focus on local communities within the Integrated Rail Plan, and its commitment to enabling modal shift and more integrated local transport. There are some promising commitments that will increase rail capacity and reliability across the North and Midlands, delivering benefits to many communities, and putting rail at the heart of a wider sustainable transport network. We and our members in community rail will continue to work with national and local government, and our rail and transport partners, to ensure communities have a voice and can shape these changes, so everyone can benefit.”

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