Interreg IVB North-West Europe: Citizens’ Rail
This is Europe's first project focussed on improving "slow" as opposed to "high speed" rail networks. Like high speed rail, slow rail is inextricably linked with social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainable territorial development. Unlike high speed rail, slow rail is under threat from falling public subsidies. Yet there are opportunities to strengthen regional rail, by encouraging its use and through new partnerships with citizens.
The overall aim & contribution of this project is to add value to regional rail. Specific objectives are to:
- Demonstrate the potential for social outreach
- Make best use of existing regional networks, with low cost measures to increase use.
Practitioner partners face common European problems and are working together in finding & implementing new and effective solutions. Common problems are:
- How to get into a virtuous circle of increasing use to justify improvements?
- Unstaffed stations with poor environments discourage use
- What are the practical tips for engaging with citizens and what happens when you make the attempt?
- What are the key factors for success - can this be achieved elsewhere?
Within the project the Department of Geography of the RWTH Aachen University works on an overarching evaluation framework that covers the variety of actions by project partners and also the surrounding conditions that are different from region to region. In this context the aim is to assess the potential effects of rail and station related measures and to understand the interplay of local rail and citizens. As the projects’ name is Citizens’ Rail one of the main objectives besides improving “slow rail” is to engage citizens by making them actively participate in measures.
Moreover the Department of Geography organizes a transnational and interdisciplinary masterclass workshop for students from all partner regions. The main idea is to integrate university students into project work and discussions. Over the two-day course students will work together on issues relating to regional actions in Limburg and Aachen. In this context they exchange knowledge, methods and visions on station development plans and community engagement plans. Hereby the workshop contributes to mutual learning and offers students the opportunity to bring in their creative ideas.
Partners of the project Citizens’ Rail that operates from 2011 to 2015 are:
- University of Plymouth (UK, lead partner)
- Lancashire County Council (UK)
- Conseil Régional des Pays de la Loire (France)
- Parkstad Limburg (Netherlands)
- Stadt Aachen (Germany)
- Aachener Verkehrsverbund Gmbh (Germany)
- RWTH Aachen (Germany)
Project website: http://www.citizensrail.org/