Published: 08:26, 14 April 2020
| Updated: 08:29, 14 April 2020
A rail group which supports the continued operation of trains on two lines has had its work recognised by Whitehall.
Kent Community Rail Partnership (KCRP) has been given accredited status by the Department for Transport for its involvement in the running of the Medway Valley Line and Swale Rail Line, which link larger towns with smaller rural communities across Kent.
As well as promoting the services on these lines and their importance for healthy, sustainable travel, the partnership also works with young people in the county to develop skills and confidence in a railway environment.
Achieving accreditation is formal recognition that the group's objectives and activities are supported by the government.
Chris Fribbins, chairman of KCRP, said: "The accreditation builds on the work the Kent CRP has carried out over many years in support of the Sittingbourne to Sheerness and the Strood to Tonbridge lines and their local communities.
"We look forward to continuing our work with schools, colleges, councils and groups, including current and future passengers. We will bring the benefit of capitalising on our relationship with the train operator, Network Rail and the British Transport Police to promote our vital lines."
One main focus of the partnership has been engaging young adults in using the railway and building up their vocational skills for future employment opportunities.
On the Swale Rail Line between Sittingbourne and the Isle of Sheppey, more than 200 students from Sheppey College have adopted all five stations along the line and are working on station improvements, including information posters, new seating and planting.
While on the Medway Valley Line, which runs from Strood to Tonbridge via Maidstone West, the partnership works with students from Five Acre Wood School, some with severe learning difficulties.
They have adopted Snodland station, where they have planted a community garden and are planning an allotment area to grow vegetables. They are also taking part in train travel training to build up their independence and increase their chances of finding a job.
More by this authorRhys Griffiths