Where is the Tyne Valley Line?

The Tyne Valley line (also known as the Hadrian’s Wall line) runs for 62 miles across the north of England between Newcastle and Carlisle.

It serves a diverse variety of markets and communities as it passes through inner city areas, a major out-of-town shopping centre, suburbia, semi-rural commuter belt, market towns and highly rural villages. It is estimated that the population within a 30 minute travelling time of a station on the line is in excess of 1.5 million.

The line forms a major rail link to the North Pennines AONB, Northumberland National Park and the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site.

In 2013, the line celebrated its 175 year anniversary making it the oldest cross country passenger line in the UK. In 2014, the services on the line received official designation by the DfT as Community Rail.

What is Community Rail?

Community rail is a growing grassroots movement made up of community rail partnerships and groups across Britain. They engage communities and help people get the most from their railways, promoting social inclusion and sustainable travel, working alongside train operators to bring about improvements, and bringing stations back to life. Community Rail is the membership body for 60 community rail partnerships and represents over 1000 station adoption groups. We support our members to be effective in benefiting their communities and railways, socially, environmentally and economically.

What is a Community Rail Route?

Any line can be designated as a Community Rail route if it meets the criteria set out in the strategy. But any line can have a Community Rail Partnership if local people believe it can add value.

They’re typically local or rural routes, single or double track with normally one operator, or a single passenger operator plus freight.

They are generally subsidised either by central government or by local stakeholders.

They normally serve the areas covered by just one or two local authorities with transport planning responsibilities.

Designated Community Rail lines don’t include:

  • lines that form part of the Trans European Network (TENs routes); or (except as shown) that are designated as part of the
  • Trans European Rail Freight Network (TERFN)
  • multiple track lines (more than two tracks)
  • lines with a speed limit in excess of 75 mph
  • intensively used lines forming part of commuting networks around major cities

While there are many lines on the network which won’t become designated Community Rail routes, there is still a chance for the community to get involved in running stations along the route through station adoption schemes managed by the train operating companies.

What do Community Rail Partnerships Do?

They can provide an effective local management presence for the railway within the community.

They support the railway with a wide variety of services such as marketing, research, ticket selling, catering and retailing at stations or on trains, and property restoration and management. They can also provide ancillary services such as running community bus services.

They may employ staff, lease or own property and undertake trading activities in a way which might not be possible for voluntary groups or local government officers.

For tasks that are vital to safety, either Network Rail or the train operator remain responsible.

Where does the Community Rail idea come from?

The Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership and the Bittern & Wherry Partnerships in Norfolk were among the first in Britain, in the early 1990s. The idea grew and in 2000 led to the formation of the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) which promotes Community Rail involvement nationwide.

The AcoRP strategy, as well as the practical experience of other partnerships in the UK, was used by the Strategic Rail Authority to develop the strategy for Community Rail routes.

In its planning, it looked at a number of lines and services that are important to the communities they serve, and with considerable potential for development. It found that branch lines were running safely and reliably – but expensively, with too many empty seats on services.

Even if they were filled, it suggested, the lines would still require substantial levels of subsidy. The strategy identified ways to both grow income and reduce costs so that the subsidy levels could be reduced by a third, and the subsidy per passenger could be halved.

Who provides funding for Community Rail Routes and Community Rail Partnerships?

Funding for community railways is the same as elsewhere on the network. Network Rail are paid by the train operating company for ‘access’ to the network. This is defined in a contractual agreement for the number, timing and type of train the operator wants to run.

The operator receives income through the fares that passengers pay and from support grants made either by central government or sometimes by local authorities and Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs) that wish to support particular loss-making services.

Network Rail also receive some direct government support for particular projects.

Community Rail Partnerships (CRPs) and other groups are funded by a number of different routes. The Department for Transport (DfT) provides some project grant funding and some funding to the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP).

A partnership between DfT, Network Rail and ACoRP provides grants for designated community railways. ACoRP has a small grants scheme.

County and district councils as well as PTEs and TOCs in their areas all contribute to CRPs, railway development companies and Station Friends groups around the country.

Train operators and others in the rail industry make cash contributions or contributions in kind. Some groups also seek public subscription or act as sub-contractors to the industry to support their activities.