Local Rail Service Provision in South West England
J Dallen, University of Exeter, UK
This paper will focus on the challenges of providing local and rural rail services in South West England. It reports on surveys and interviews with rail users and non-users, and with those stakeholders involved in the management of services.
This paper will focus on the challenges of providing local and rural branch line rail services in South West England. Debates about the future of rural rail service provision in the South West have been highly topical, with the evolution of the Community Rail Development Strategy and the Greater Western Franchise for South West England. These services provide important components of the tourism transport infrastructure, placing resort destinations on the rail map, providing alternatives to seasonally congested local road networks, and also by acting as tourism attractions in their own right due to their scenic appeal. They also provide important links for local communities accessing work and educational facilities, and for those needing to access services, and also open up access for leisure and recreational trips. They are important for those people without access to their own private transport, but also for those who prefer to leave their car behind in order to avoid the stresses of driving, such as road congestion and parking, or so to enjoy the rail travel experience. However, these local and rural rail services cater for only relatively small numbers of passengers in the context of the whole UK national rail network, and require high levels of subsidy, which presents significant policy challenges for their management.
Only a limited amount of previous research has been undertaken into why local communities and tourist visitors use these local and rural rail services in the UK, whilst tourism transport more broadly is an under-researched aspect of transportation research. This paper focuses on the St Ives Bay and Tamar Valley branch line railways in Devon and Cornwall and reports on questionnaire surveys and interviews with existing local, leisure and tourist rail users and non-users, as well as interviews with key stakeholders involved in the management of these services. The research focuses on the reasons why people use such services, general travel behaviour and attitudes towards such services, and sets these in the context of the current policy climate and challenges facing local rail service provision in South West England.
Association for European Transport