7th July 2012
Northern Rail’s Community Ambassadors Scheme picked up gold at the Railway Industry Innovation Awards. The cross community initiative won the highest accolade for ‘Small Scale Project’ at the awards event held in the London Paddington Hotel.
The scheme was created to promote the use of local rail services with Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) and socially excluded groups around four stations in the north: Blackburn, Brierfield, Rochdale and Farnworth.
The Department for Transport, Transport for Greater Manchester and the East Lancashire Community Rail Partnership have all supported the growing venture which is helping build confidence with new rail users and bridge communities across Northern’s network.
Judges applauded the ambassadors’ dedication to make the railway relevant to all members of society and were impressed with Northern’s eagerness to do everything possible to help groups which could easily be overlooked.
Ian Bevan, Managing Director of Northern Rail said: “The ambassadors are a shining example of Northern’s commitment to the communities we serve and our recent award win echoes this. They are also overcoming the perceptions many have of the rail network and I’m thrilled, along with our supporters, to see the scheme going from strength to strength.”
Rail Minister Norman Baker said: “The Coalition Government’s vision is for a transport system that is an engine for economic growth but one that is also greener and safer and improves quality of life in our communities. We are delighted to be partners in Northern’s Ambassador Project. This excellent travel awareness initiative which reaches out to communities which are currently under utilising the railway on their doorstop, we hope will form the basis for future community engagement projects across the rail network.”
Richard Watts, Rail Projects Manager and Community Rail Partnership Secretary, Lancashire County Council said: "The East Lancashire Community Rail Partnership (ELCRP) is delighted to be involved in this flagship project and celebrates this success which shows how new groups can be introduced to using the railway. Ridership on the East Lancashire line is growing at above the national average and this is in part down to the efforts of the Community Ambassadors working with the ELCRP. The work has only just begun and new links are now being forged with local colleges and businesses as the project grows."
Michael Renshaw, TfGM’s Bus and Rail Director, said: “This project is a great example of what can be achieved when we work together with partners and has encouraged people to make the most of their local train services.“The ambassadors themselves have actively gone into communities, engaged with them and helped them to appreciate how rail travel can connect them with the places they want or need to get to. It’s fantastic that it has been recognised in this way and I’d like to congratulate everyone involved.”