Updated: Jan 26
Projects designed to promote Gloucestershire as a ‘Great Rail Experience’ have received funding from Great Western Railway and long-distance operator CrossCountry.
Gloucestershire Community Rail Partnership is spearheading work to provide bookable Taste for Travel trails and experiences. The trails will encourage visitors to see rail as part of the adventure, leave the station to explore nearby attractions and experience local businesses.
Working with Visit Gloucestershire, Destination Marketing Organisations and the private sector the project will secure local benefits and encourage visitors to discover the region using sustainable modes of transport.
By developing strategic destination management tools they will identify best practise models around partnership working so that rail experiences can be replicated successfully nationally to support the sustainability agenda and economic recovery of the visitor economy.
As part of their franchise agreements with the Department for Transport, train operators are committed to funding projects proposed by their Community Rail Partnerships.
Gloucestershire Community Rail Partnership Co-Director Hannah McDonnell said:
“We are extremely grateful for the support from both Great Western Railway and CrossCountry. As part of our Taste for Travel bookable experiences, we have already worked on a food and farm trail and a cycling and walking trail for Stonehouse, as well as a food and drink trail in Cheltenham, and a food, farm and forest trail in Lydney.
“The idea is that people step out of the station to enjoy an experience, make the most of local businesses and even stay at a local hotel. It’s about making it a ‘Great Rail Experience’.
“This ties in nicely with our plans to develop a strategic destination management experience to benefit Community Rail Partnerships across the country. We want to create a robust and resilient strategy, where rail users can recognise the potential to reduce carbon through rail experiences.
“In five years’ time you could be anywhere in the country or visiting from abroad – with the development of this strategy you’ll be able to learn about amazing rail experiences right on your doorstep.”
Visit Gloucestershire director Steve Gardner-Collins said:
"We are delighted and excited to be working with GCRP and partners to deliver this great project that incorporates everyone’s favourite experiences. Food and drink is a perfect example of how visitors to Gloucestershire can get a flavour of what’s on offer throughout the area.
"Combining travel and food we can encourage visitors to choose sustainable transport methods whilst giving our county-wide producers an opportunity to showcase their products and services and give our visitors memorable experiences."
Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie said:
“It is great to see Stroud and Stonehouse featuring in the new Taste for Travel programme. Gloucestershire CRP, GWR and CrossCountry are to be congratulated on such a great initiative. Not only does it support local businesses and our local communities, but it promotes sustainable travel by train, by foot and by bike.
“I’m supporting many local initiatives for sustainable travel and I hope that this and other projects will mean we see many more visitors to the area.”
GWR Community Rail Development Manager Ann Jenner said:
“We have a specific pot of money designed to support the Community Rail Partnerships on our network who in turn work with their local communities. These are two pioneering projects which will not only help to encourage rail travel, but boost local economies and put communities at the heart of the development process.”
CrossCountry Stakeholder Liaison Manager David Jones said:
“CrossCountry is delighted to support these exciting projects to encourage visitors and residents of Gloucestershire to use rail travel as part of a packaged bookable experience. Our long distance trains directly serve Ashchurch for Tewkesbury, Cheltenham Spa, Gloucester and Lydney stations which are all gateways to a host of experiences in different parts of Gloucestershire. These are ground-breaking community initiatives.”