By Phil Marsh

Highland Main Line gains new community Rail Partnership and ScotRail Community fund launched

Published: 16th November 2015

Praise for John Yellowlees of ScotRail

A new Community Rail Partnership has been formally launched for the Highland Main Line in Scotland. The organisation was promoted at an inaugural event at Pitlochry station on Monday 9 November.

Among more than 40 guests were Phil Verster, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance, and John Swinney MSP, Scotland’s Deputy First Minister and prominent local politician. There was considerable praise for the ScotRail official who has worked closely with rail-supporting organisations, John Yellowlees.

Guests were welcomed by Sally Spaven, who chairs the new Highland Main Line Community Rail Partnership (HML CRP). She paid tribute to many people who had worked to prepare for the new organisation in the two years since the 150th anniversary of the opening of the original line between Inverness and Perth was celebrated.

She said: “We are delighted to finally bring all the individual groups working at stations along the line together under a CRP umbrella. We welcome the opportunity of partnership working and supporting this majestic, historic railway line achieve another 150 years of success.

“Finally I would like to thank the many volunteers, station staff, the staff at ACoRP, our previous Project Officer Jim Wilkins for his patience and encouragement, and of course John Yellowlees of ScotRail for his unstinting support, encouragement, knowledge and humour.”

The CRP, which covers communities served by intermediate stations between Carrbridge and Dunkeld & Birnam, inclusive, is one of several to be financed by ScotRail during the current passenger rail franchise that started in April.

Priorities set for the years ahead include:

· Making rail more attractive and accessible to the community,

· Encouraging more commuters to leave the car at home and use public / active transport,

· Improving access and linkages between stations and community centres / points of interest,

· Supporting the economic development of the region,

· Seeking to improve accessibility for those with mobility issues and others with accessibility issues,

· and: Acting as an interface between the community, the two Regional

Transport Partnerships covering the route and the rail industry. (The RTPs are HITRANS, the Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership, and Tactrans, the transport partnership for Tayside and Central Scotland.)

Mr Swinney said that the CRP was an excellent body bringing together “the twin priorities of sustainable public transport and vibrant, well-connected rural communities”.

Mr Swinney added: “I wish to pay tribute to the work of everyone involved in preparing for this launch from within communities and partner organisations. In particular I would like to express my gratitude to John Yellowlees of ScotRail for his personal commitment to this partnership and for the substantial contribution he has made over many years to all Scottish station groups".

Mr Verster said that CRPs strengthen links between communities and the rail industry, support local businesses and improve responsiveness to rail customers. He added: “Through our dedicated community rail team we will work closely with the HML CRP to encourage more people to travel by train.

“We know that CRPs can improve conditions at stations and raise local awareness of rail travel. Other railways have seen numbers using local stations increase by between 7 and 10% as a result of CRPs working with communities.

“To complement this programme, we have established a flagship £1m Community Rail programme to facilitate widespread and effective community participation in Scotland’s railway.”

The HML CRP has nine members on its executive committee and more than 40 volunteer members. Organisations with projects that they feel would enhance the railway’s benefit to the community can approach the CRP by email to: info@highlandmainlinecrp.co.uk

ScotRail launches Cultural and Arts Fund

A new Cultural and Arts Fund totalling £80,000 has been announced by ScotRail as part of the Abellio franchise that started in April 2015.

The fund will award £40,000 to community initiatives by the end of January 2016, followed by £10,000 each quarter until January 2017. It is part of Abellio’s “ScotRail in the Community scheme”.

Grants up to a maximum of £5,000 can be awarded to charities, community groups and individuals to support and develop their plans in line with the Scottish Government’s policy on culture.

ScotRail announced that to apply, or to learn more about the fund, individuals and groups should visit www.scotrail.co.uk/cafund

Why do it?

ScotRail in the Community is designed to generate engagement with local communities, and support our social, environmental and economic objectives. Many of these can often be a silent minority within but have important skills, experiences and ideas that can contribute to the future ScotRail in the Community.

This will help build on existing and successful Community Rail Partnerships (CRPs) which have been instrumental in realising significant achievements within their local community through innovative local marketing, improving access to services and better station facilities.

There are seven designated CRPs in Scotland:

• Anniesland to Glasgow Queen Street (via Maryhill) CRP

• Borders CRP

• East Lothian CRP

• Highland Mainline CRP

• West Highland CRP

• South West Glasgow CRP

• Stranraer to Ayr Line Support Association (SAYLSA).

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