Citizens' Rail brought together new partnerships with local grassroots organisations, national infrastructure owners, local/regional authorities, policy stakeholders and transport operators. For example, through the connection to the project partners, Germany community rail is now being seen as a new policy instrument. In fact, by the end of this project, two 4-6 year long contracts were created to continue the community rail that contributed EUR 50.000 per year for staff and investment in community engagement.
In addition to adding jobs and boosting investment in local communities, this project also supported local transport needs and increased revenue in every pilot location.
To illustrate, using the community rail concept, Citizens’ Rail regenerated the line between La Roche-sur-Yon and Saumur in Pays de la Loire, France, rebranding it as ‘The beach train’ in 2013. Before the project’s intervention, the services were infrequent and passenger numbers were low. Citizens’ Rail consulted a large network of stakeholders including the Regional Council, the school transport authority, and local organisations to find out how the line could best serve local residents, visitors, and the area’s economy.
The idea of a beach train was then developed, along with other changes to make the line more attractive. As a result of making these changes, and with the help of a marketing campaign in the local media, the line grew from 5 300 passengers in 2013 to 20 000 in 2015. Along the line, the stations saw a 64% increase in daily passenger use from 2010 to 2015.
The Citizens’ Rail approach was shown to be an innovative, low-cost way to boost the economy, tackle local transport needs and reconnect isolated populations.