A community rail line is a railway supported by a local partnership giving local people a say in the development and promotion of routes, services and stations.
The community rail concept initially developed from grassroots organisations, before being adopted as a Government strategy and supported more broadly by the rail industry.
See also: Rail campaign boost for rural tourism
Community rail lines and services are all part of the commercial rail network.
Train companies operate the services and Network Rail own and maintain the infrastructure, the track, signals and the majority of stations.
Community rail lines carry over 40 million customers annually.
The consultation seeks views to inform the future policies to be considered in the next community rail strategy.
Although community rail lines and services currently operate in predominantly rural areas, some also operate in semi-rural, suburban and inner city areas.
The government says rural communities are becoming more economically diverse with tourism an increasingly important component of local economies.
Rail also provides fast and reliable connections with other areas.
Among other questions, the consultation asks for responses about the role community rail could play in maximising the economic potential of local areas.
This includes employment and training opportunities – and making better and more socially and economically productive use of underused or unused railway land and stations.
The Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) says brings together local groups and partners along railway lines to work with rail industry.
Hundreds of more localised groups – like station friends, enhance stations, engage volunteers, and run enterprises – benefit passengers and local people, it says.
These partnerships and groups are attuned to local needs and aspirations and passionate about rail – some have been going decades while others are just emerging.
There is growing recognition of the importance of community rail, says ACoRP.
This includes how it can improve community engagement and wellbeing – as well as travel links and the economy.
The consultation closes at 11:45pm on 28 January 2018. For full details, click here
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