We held our annual Community Conference this week. Due to COVID this year’s conference was ‘virtual’ and was excellently attended by nearly 40 stakeholders, including Community Rail Partnerships and Rail User Groups from across our national network.
Tom Joyner told delegates that CrossCountry has funded more than £1m of Community Rail initiatives since the start of our Direct Award in 2016 and explained how important it is for us to continue working closely with our community partners and local stakeholders to help regain customer confidence in rail travel now and beyond the coronavirus pandemic.
Our key guest speaker was Kulvinder Bassi, Head of DfT’s Community Rail team for the past 14 years. Kul thanked CrossCountry for helping him in his role and said that Community Rail is in a very different place than it was 14 years ago, largely due to funding commitments in TOC franchise agreements which have allowed community driven initiatives to flourish. Kul gave CrossCountry a much appreciated accolade when he said: ‘CrossCountry is the only TOC I’ve ever had 100% positive feedback for; they engage with us, they listen, they respond and they give quick decisions’. ‘Richard Gibson and the Stakeholder Liaison Team have done a great job’, Kul added. Mr Bassi went on to say that passengers are at the heart of future DfT contracts with TOCs and that specific commitments to Community Rail and delivering the social benefits of our railway will continue to be an important part of new contracts’.