Community Rail Partnerships in Cheshire have joined other community partnerships and volunteer groups across Britain to spearhead a national campaign highlighting sustainable travel as a key factor in tackling the climate crisis, in the build up to COP26.
Community Rail Week, organised by Community Rail Network and sponsored by Rail Delivery Group, is the first event of its kind in the UK and will see hundreds of local partnership projects and volunteers getting involved to promote green travel by train during 18 – 24 October.
Many activities during the week will be focused on youth engagement, as a new survey shows that seven in ten young people support greater use of trains in the future.
With greener transport now recognised as a fundamental part of the solution to climate change, Community Rail Week, with the tagline ‘Go Green by Train’, looks to drive change at a community level through the efforts of 74 community rail partnerships and over 1,000 station friends’ groups across Britain.
Transport has a huge role to play if the UK is to reach its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 100% of 1990 levels, or ‘net zero’, by 2050. Figures show that:
• Transport is now the largest emitting sector in the UK, making up 27% of domestic emissions in 2019
• Rail accounted for just 1% of domestic transport emissions in 2019, despite representing 10% of the total distance travelled, and is the greenest form of transport after walking and cycling
• One train can remove up to 500 cars off our roads
• For a 30-mile journey, travelling by train instead of by car can reduce emissions by up to 86%.
There will be an open day event at Manchester Piccadilly on Monday 18th October from 9:30am to 3.30pm. The event will bring together Community Rail Partnerships from across the region to promote the benefits of rail travel.
Chris Jackson, Regional Director at Northern, said:
“Our vision is to make a positive impact for the North, and there is no better way for us to do that than by encouraging more people to travel by rail.
“The more people travel by train, the more cars are left at home, which, in turn, means less pollution and a greener environment for all.”
Chris added: “We’re proud to work alongside the fantastic community groups in Cheshire to make our stations and wider rail network as welcoming as possible. “We’ve invested millions in new trains, refurbished trains and station improvements to give our customers the best possible journeys and to give them the confidence to use the railway to go do their thing.”
As part of the week, Community Rail Network has released results of a survey of 1,000 16–24-year-olds, detailing their current travel habits and attitudes to green travel:
• Seven in ten (70%) young people are keen to see more people using trains in the future, with the vast majority (90%) saying the environment and climate emergency is an important issue to them;
• Around half (48%) travel by train at least once a month, but one in six (17%) have rarely or never been on a train, or can’t remember when they last did;
• While 94% have a station near enough for them to use, most (67%) admit there are factors getting in the way of them using trains, including practicalities with walking, cycling, or getting a bus to the station, being worried about cost, or driving or getting lifts being more convenient.
Jools Townsend, Chief Executive of Community Rail Network, said:
“As we approach the international climate talks in Glasgow, Britain’s community rail movement is coming together to highlight the great importance of green travel at a local and global level. Transport is now the biggest contributor of UK greenhouse emissions, so we face a pressing challenge to decarbonise the way we get around, for the sake of future generations – plus our communities can benefit now from reduced traffic and pollution. Rail, combined with buses, walking, cycling, and shared mobility, provides a huge part of the solution: shifting as many journeys as we can onto these modes, and reducing private car use, can help us forge a more sustainable, healthy, inclusive future.
“We’re excited to launch our first Community Rail Week with events and activities in communities across Britain, raising awareness and exploring how we can enable and empower more people to feel confident and able to go green by train.”
Andy Bagnall, Director General at the Rail Delivery Group, said:
“Trains are inherently green so when people go by rail it’s more than a journey – it’s literally helping to save the planet!
“In future, we want trains to be the backbone of a decarbonised transport network so, as well as supporting initiatives like Community Rail Week, we want to work with government to reform ticketing and fares – if it’s easier for people to find and buy a good value ticket, more people will use rail as a green alternative to other ways of travelling.”