Brief history of Community Rail
In November 2004 the Strategic Rail Authority
(now the Department for Transport) published
its Community Rail Development strategy.
The main objectives of the 'Community
Rail' concept were:
- To increase passenger volume and income
- To manage down the cost of running the line
now and in the future, without compromising
safety or service
- To involve the local community more closely
in the development of its railway
- To enable the local railway to play a greater
part in economic and social regeneration
As part of the strategy, the Abbey Line was
selected to become one of the UK's first
official 'Community Railways'.
Six Pilot Projects covering seven routes
across the UK were set up, with each of these
being carefully chosen in order to test different
aspects of the concept. For instance, the
Abbey Line was the only one of the seven
to be an electrified semi-urban branch line,
and has a very different character from some
of the 'classic' Community Rail lines
in more rural parts of the country.
The first objective of the pilot project
was to establish a Community Rail Partnership
(CRP) and this was launched on 15th June
About the Abbey Line CRP
The Abbey Line CRP is led by a working group
which meets around six times a year to drive
forward projects according to an action plan,
- Station adoption
- Better signage
- Cycle facilities
- Improved marketing
- Special trains
The working group is made up of representatives
from the Abbey Line 'Lead Partners'. These are......
Hertfordshire County Council: hosts the Community Rail Officer position
and continue to make the overall decisions
about transport policy in the area.
London Midland Trains: run and service the trains, maintain
the stations and provide the staff under
their franchise arrangements.
ABFLY - Abbey Flyer Users Group: have represented users of the line
since 1995 and continue to be a very active
voice in the development of the line.
Watford Borough Council: represent the area where Watford Junction,
Watford North and Garston stations are situated.
St Albans City & District Council: is the other big council in the area
and has planning control over the areas surrounding
Bricket Wood, Park Street, How Wood and St
Albans Abbey stations.
St Stephen's Parish Council: covers St Albans, Park Street, How Wood
and Bricket Wood. The CRP working group usually
meets in their Parish Centre.
A full history of Meeting Minutes, Newsletters
and other papers relating to the running
of the CRP is publicly available and can
be found on our Documents
Long term aims
One of the long term aims on the Abbey Line
was to increase train service frequency.
Initially the idea of running two 'conventional'
trains with a reinstated passing loop at
Bricket Wood was examined, but this was deemed
to be too expensive. However, in October
2009 it was announced that an alternative
scheme was to be pursued. The proposal put
forward by the Department for Transport (DfT)
and Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) was
for the line to be converted to light rail
operation, thus allowing the infrastructure
for a half-hourly service to be installed
at considerably lower cost. To find out more
about this, please visit our Light Rail scheme
Since the establishment of the CRP, there
has been a measurable growth in patronage
- up around 20% since the establishment of
the Partnership - with a 11% rise seen in
one year alone. Patronage is now at around
450,000 journeys p.a. This has been an important
achievement for the CRP, because it was done
with very little change to the fabric of
the trains, the stations or the service.
Improving, exploiting and marketing what
we've got is our key aim.
For further examples of what we have achieved
over the years, please see our Photo Gallery
You can help us keep the momentum of the
CRP going by joining us.
Individuals are encouraged to express their
support through membership of the line's
user group, ABFLY. See their website www.abfly.org.uk
or see our ABFLY
page for further details.
Businesses and organisations should contact
the CRP officer to discuss how they can participate.
Please visit our Contact
page for further details.