Want free rail travel? New initiative offers complimentary GWR rail journeys to community groups in the West of England

Issue date: 23 August 2016

Low income residents from the West of England area are set to enjoy a free day out by train this summer, thanks to a new initiative led by The Centre for Transport and Society at UWE Bristol.

Group day trips by rail to the seaside and many other popular attractions in the West of England will be even more attainable for residents of some of the region's most disadvantaged communities, through to February 2017.

The project, 'Days Out By Train in the West of England', is funded by GWR as part of a £2.2 million communities' improvement fund launched in 2015 to support areas of real social need, and is being delivered in collaboration with the Severnside Community Rail Partnership.

'Days Out by Train in the West of England' aims to remove any financial barriers to travel by providing community groups with complimentary group rail tickets on GWR services within the West of England area.

Project lead, Dr Miriam Ricci, Senior Research Fellow at UWE Bristol's Centre for Transport and Society, said: “We're delighted to announce this new initiative which for many disadvantaged communities will provide a first-time experience of a day out by train.

“Our research has shown us that socially disadvantaged community groups in Bristol found that the cost of travel, combined with lack of public transport connections and access to private transport were significant barriers to travel, leading to a lack of physical activity, social isolation and inability for many families to take children on leisure trips to local attractions.

“We hope that many people will take advantage of this offer and enjoy the experience of a day out by train, not only as a boost to their own well-being but for families and individuals to develop confidence on how to use the railways and to open up new opportunities.”

Launched in 2015, over 40 schemes benefited from a share of £750,000 in the first year of the Great Western Railway Customer and Communities Improvement Fund (CCIF) to support areas of real social need. The deadline for 2016 funding applications (and the second share of £750,000) has recently passed.

GWR Development Manager Mark Youngman said, “We are committed to improving the journeys of our passengers, as well as the economic prosperity and social footprint of the regions and communities we serve.

“This project is a clear example of how we can work with our local partners to improve access to rail, enabling more and more people to take advantage of the full range of services that we offer.”

Keith Walton, Chairman of the Severnside Community Rail Partnership, said, “We are delighted to be working in collaboration with UWE on this important initiative. Funding from GWR enables disadvantaged groups across our region to experience the local rail service free of charge, and we are finding that many of those travelling as part of the scheme would never have otherwise considered using local rail services. The feedback received from participants in the Days Out scheme is broadening our understanding of local communities and giving further insight to the barriers to rail travel for disadvantaged groups.”

This offer is open to residents' associations, youth clubs, schools, children centres and any local organisations and charities working with disadvantaged communities in Bristol and the West of England; this includes Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

Groups are eligible to claim a free group ticket for a maximum of 20 people on the GWR network within the West of England to enjoy a day out on a date and destination of their choice until February 2017.

To check if your organisation/charity/group is eligible to take part in this initiative or for more information, please contact Miriam.Ricci@uwe.ac.uk Tel: 0117 32 83798.

For full terms and conditions and further information, visit the project website: http://www.severnside-rail.org.uk/daysout.php

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