Local communities and train operators in the U.K. have joined together to roll out an adoption scheme to enhance the safety and general quality of experience at rail stations.
Station adoptions began in a small way, mostly at rural and unstaffed facilities some years ago. This year, most of the operating companies have established formal station adoption schemes.
One Railways, which runs passenger services in parts of southeast England, established an adoption program in 2003. “So far, approximately 70 of our stations have been adopted, and we would love to eventually have all 167 stations we are responsible for adopted,” said spokeswoman Kerri Worrall.
The rail service ran a public relations campaign to generate interest and asked its rail user groups about possible participants. “Anyone can apply to become an adopter. We send them a packet to sign,” Worrall said. Once the paperwork is completed, adopters are offered a complimentary travel pass for local services.
Adopters are not required to perform station cleaning or maintenance duties. “We ask them to let us know what the state of the environment at the station is,” Worrall said. “However, sometimes they choose to pick up litter.”
Each adopter completes a short questionnaire each month about the state of the station and offers suggestions for improvements. Suggestions include graffiti removal, creating and maintaining garden areas, as well as organizing community events at the stations. One such event is an annual tea party held at West Runton station in Norfolk, which was adopted by the local women’s institute.
While the train operating companies in Britain are private-sector based, public passenger transport agencies in the larger city regions exist that also have powers over rail services. One of these, Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive, has published, with the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACRP), a toolkit brochure for station adoption.
“We hope that people will act in this as communities and take ownership and responsibility,” said Denise Lennox, service delivery director for the ACRP. “This will reduce vandalism and make local stations safer and more attractive environments and that will lead to more people using the services.” BRIAN BAKER