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COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT IN PURBECK’S RAILWAYS TO BE BOOSTED THANKS TO AREA’S FIRST COMMUNITY RAIL PARTNERSHIP OFFICER

Published: February 7, 2019

Story by Andrew P.M. Wright,
Swanage Railway official photographer and press officer.

Community involvement in Purbeck’s heritage and main line railways – for the benefit of residents, visitors and the environment – is being given an important boost with the appointment of the area’s first Community Rail Partnership Officer.​

Employed by the Swanage Railway, and funded by the South Western Railway through the Purbeck Community Rail Partnership (PCRP), Kelly Marshall will be working with communities across the Purbeck area as well as with members of the PCRP.

The Partnership’s first officer, Kelly’s geographical ‘patch’ is the Swanage Railway heritage line from Swanage to Corfe Castle and Norden as well as the South Western Railway main line between Holton Heath, Wareham, Wool and Moreton.

A delighted Kelly said: “I am looking forward to the challenge of my new role as Purbeck’s first Community Rail Partnership Officer which includes a wide range of projects such as re-instating a regular train service from the Swanage Railway to the main line at Wareham, improving social inclusion and promoting Purbeck’s railways with the aim of enhancing education, employment, leisure and tourism across the area.

“I am also looking forward to working with the Purbeck Community Rail Partnership’s steering and stakeholder groups as well as the South Western Railway, Network Rail, local councils and the Association of Community Rail Partnerships,” she added.

A married mother of two children who lives in Wareham, Kelly enjoyed a successful 17-year career with Dorset Police – working as a building surveyor and then as a contracts manager before becoming a project surveyor and then the force’s asset planning and facilities manager.

“I have always been lucky to have challenging roles that I love and which have enabled me to engage with different many people – every day being varied and challenging. My Dorset Police roles allowed me to work and travel across the county independently while working as part of a wider team,” added Kelly, who grew up in rural Somerset and has lived in Dorset since 1995 – graduating from Bournemouth University.

The Swanage Railway’s Head of Sales and Marketing, David Rawsthorn, said: “We are delighted to welcome Kelly to the railway family as Purbeck’s first Community Rail Partnership Officer and we look forward to working closely with her to further enhance our role in the local community and our aspirations to develop regular train services between Swanage and Wareham.

“Kelly will be analysing local travel patterns and advising on improvements for the benefit of not only train travel across Purbeck but also a much wider vision of the future sustainability of the area which includes the Jurassic Coast and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which attract high numbers of visitors each year,” added Mr Rawsthorn.

Swanage Railway trustee and director Mark Woolley said: “For more than 20 years, the main goal of the Purbeck Community Rail Partnership has been to help achieve the operation of regular services from Swanage and Corfe Castle to the main line at Wareham – train services that last ran under British Rail in 1972 before the line was controversially closed and seven miles of track lifted.

“The appointment of the Partnership’s first Community Rail Partnership Officer can help the Swanage Railway and the Partnership achieve this goal by helping to attract funding for future developments.

“The Government’s Community Rail Development Strategy underlines the importance of community engagement and involvement in our railways and the wider benefits to society of getting people out of cars and on to other means of transport,” added Mr Woolley.

Purbeck Community Rail Partnership chairman, Councillor Bill Trite, said: “I warmly welcome our new Community Rail Partnership Officer Kelly Marshall. She has much to familiarise herself with in the coming weeks but has already demonstrated the ability to learn quickly and understand the essentials of the Rail Partnership.

“Kelly’s role is central to the achievement of the Partnership’s objectives. I wish her every success in the job and I hope that she enjoys it too,” he added.

South Western Railway’s Community Rail Manager, Andy Harrowell, explained: “We have provided funding to eight Community Rail Partnerships (CRPs) across our network, to both employ a part-time officer, and to deliver projects which support the communities around our stations.

“Working with the CRPs, we are seeing a range of benefits to different areas of our network, including helping to further involve groups in our stations and services. We are delighted to be welcoming Kelly and look forward to working with her in the future to build on the successes we have had together so far,” he added.

The Swanage Railway always welcomes new volunteers so, for a chat, contact Swanage Railway volunteer co-ordinator Mike Whitwam on 01929 475212 (answerphone) or email him at [email protected]