Hereward Community Rail Partnership (CRP) was launched in 2012 with the aim of empowering local people to be more involved with their local railway and its stations through projects like station adoption which help improve the passenger experience and encourage use of rail. The CRP's focus is the Ely to Peterborough route, encompassing the stations of Manea, March and Whittlesea in the Fenlands District of North Cambridgeshire.
The CRP has embraced funding from CrossCountry to develop an innovative project that aims to increase people's knowledge of rail and other public transport options and how best to explain the options available to local residents.
The project, in partnership with Fenland Transport and Access group, is called Transport Champions, and comprises dedicated training days, led by Sustrans, in which local volunteers get involved in interactive sessions, including communications techniques, to enable them to develop better 'travel conversations'.
The training helps the Transport Champions think about the best way to frame their questions and the importance of listening so they can help people make informed decisions about choosing public transport.
The first training event welcomed nine local people, all volunteers, each with experience in customer-facing roles. More training days are planned, helping to deliver a local resource of Champions encouraging people to leave the car at home and use more environmentally-friendly forms of transport.
Pictured going through their Transport Champions workbooks are (left to right) Terry, Julie and Alan who enrolled on the first training day; here's what they said about why they wanted to take part.....
“I'm a member of Fenland Transport and Access Group and hope to improve my knowledge and my skills when giving advice about public transport. These sessions are really important to reduce car use and encourage use of public transport.” (Terry Jordan, Clerk to Wisbech Town Council)
“I rely on public transport to get around and would like to see it used more by everyone, showing people what options are available to them locally.” (Alan Walker, retired)
“I work in a library and think we should make more use of this as a resource for travel information.” (Julie Smith, Councillor for Chatteris Town Council and library assistant)
Sustrans tutor Dave Clasby leads a session on good 'travel conversations'