Community-led project connecting people with rail along the Conwy Valley Line recognised at UK awards

Conwy Valley and North Wales Coast Community Rail Partnership has been highly commended at the national Community Rail Awards for its innovative work engaging communities with their local railway at Conwy railway station.

The Partnership was named third place winner of the Involving Children and Young People award at the 19th national Community Rail Awards, organised by Community Rail Network.

This year’s Awards, jointly sponsored by Transport for Wales and Great Western Railway, recognised a diverse array of projects across Britain and beyond, with 19 winners chosen from 180 inspiring entries, all demonstrating how the community rail movement builds positivity and awareness between local people and their railways.

Conwy Railway Station Artwork Project was designed to connect young people to their railway, educating them on the dangers of trespassing, encouraging them to share rail safety messages through graffiti art and reduce antisocial behaviour.

Conwy railway station had been identified as a hotspot for trespass and anti-social behaviour. Working in partnership with British Transport Police, Transport for Wales and local graffiti artist Andy Birch, the Partnership worked with the students from Ysgol Aberconwy to design and create two new art pieces, bringing the dull and lifeless shelters into a vibrant and inspiring space. The project was developed to encourage a sense of ownership and aimed to engage children in expressing their artistic abilities while fostering a sense of civic pride and community involvement while reinforcing the importance of rail safety.

The Community Rail Awards were held at Swansea Arena on 18 March. More than 430 guests including senior rail and transport leaders and community rail officers and volunteers. It recognised projects supporting diversity, accessibility and inclusion, sustainable travel and tourism, youth and schools engagement, community-led station improvements, empowered communities and influencing positive change.

The Awards recognise the crucial, often unsung work of community rail partnerships, station friends and other community rail groups, which continue to grow in number and impact, under Community Rail Network’s umbrella. There are now 77 CRPs and an estimated 1,200 station groups spread across Britain (and now a few beyond too).

I have recently returned to the role of Community Rail Officer and delighted that the project at Conwy came in the top 3. It’s fantastic to work with local artists and local school children to highlight the important message of rail safety.  This is the second project Ysgol Aberconwy have supported the Community Rail Partnership with, and a big thanks goes to the pupils and staff that made this project happen.

Karen Williams, Community Rail Officer for the Conwy Valley and North Wales Coast Community Rail Partnership

Our Community Rail Awards give deserved recognition to community rail partnerships, groups and volunteers across Britain. The awards ceremony showcased the great value of community rail, helping to build stronger, fairer, greener communities, served and connected by their railways and wider sustainable transport network. Our congratulations to the Conwy Valley and North Wales Coast Community Rail Partnership and to all our winners, and thanks to everyone who supports and champions community rail, helping the movement to go from strength to strength.

Jools Townsend, chief executive of Community Rail Network

The Community Rail Awards are important in recognising the incredible work of volunteers and community groups improving our rail network. I was lucky enough to see first hand the difference these projects are making when I met with some of those taking part including during my rail tour last summer. “Whether it’s improving accessibility in stations or engaging with young people about rail, I’d like to thank each and every one for their contribution and the impact they’ve made.

Rail Minister Huw Merriman MP

We were thrilled to co-sponsor this year’s awards in beautiful Swansea and celebrate the amazing work being done across the UK and particularly across our own network.  “We’re so lucky to be able to work with so many amazing communities and organisations through our Community Rail Partnerships and really believe that by connecting and encouraging collaboration among businesses and organisations in local communities, we can empower those communities to work together on a whole range of social, economic, cultural and environmental issues, as well as showcase the best our network has to offer.

Marie Daly, chief customer and culture officer, Transport for Wales