Formed in 2019, this Community Rail Partnership has brought together local government, businesses, community interest groups and volunteer organisations, along with the Thameslink (and, soon, East Midlands Railway) train operating companies and Network Rail, the infrastructure owner, in the pursuit of a common cause – namely, to bring the railway and the communities it serves closer together.

What the Partnership aims to do

A Community Rail Partnership enables a combined local approach that can deliver key goals both for local communities and for the rail industry. This is described in the ‘Four Pillars’ as set out in the Government’s recent Community Rail Strategy (external link). With Beds & Herts CRP this is relevant for the following reasons:

  • The area has a high reliance upon visitors for its local economy: There is considerable scope and local support for increasing numbers visiting Bedford, Luton and St Albans as tourist destinations by rail. This will harness the benefits of the new Thameslink timetable which has increased the journey origin opportunities, and created protentional for joint working with Southeast CRP and other CRPs, for example on a Thameslink Route Bedford to Brighton Line Guide.
  • The desire to setup station partners (friends groups or ‘adopters’): At all stations within the CRP area – a foundation activity to enhance stations as a gateway for the local community.
  • Support the ‘heritage’ element of tourism along the line: Not just the obvious heritage connections of John Bunyan at Bedford and the Roman city at St Albans. The CRP has already established links and worked together with the St Albans South Signal Box Trust and intends to nurture this relationship further – their restored signal box is seen as a ‘destination’ with a railway connection and a number of opportunities have already been seized and will be built upon.
  • Opening up the CRP route to a wider group of people: Including those who would not currently consider rail as a mode of transport; and providing opportunities to take part, including volunteering, which would help tackle isolation in the community.

In overall terms the CRP aims to enable all of the respective key players and stakeholders to come together and determine a much greater holistic approach to managing expectations, ensuring effective communications, dealing with issues, considering solutions, developing improvements and ensuring effective outcomes that are supported by the local communities.

Stations within the CRP

  • Bedford (Midland)
  • Flitwick
  • Harlington
  • Leagrave
  • Luton
  • Luton Airport Parkway
  • Harpenden
  • St Albans City