Torbay’s railway was a double winner at the National Community Rail Awards held in Scarborough

Torquay station scooped third prize in the Best Station Gardens category thanks to its green transformation by the ROC Aspects learning centre and the First Great Western station adoption project.

Through weekly gardening work at the station, the scheme gives people with learning disabilities the opportunity to learn new skills and to work towards a nationally recognised qualification. Their efforts have brightened station platforms with planting on an English Riviera theme, including reclamation of a large rockery. Learner David Maltby said of the project: “I love doing it, it’s so brilliant.”

As part of the project, ROC aims to provide the opportunity for people with a learning disability to gain work experience based in their local community. Besides gaining nationally recognised qualifications, the people ROC support have made a big social impact through the project and recognise their achievement in doing so. Nick Willdigg, Learner Guide at ROC and leader of the project said: “The guys have worked tremendously hard. The project is a huge success and all of us are so proud of what we have achieved.”

First prize in the Innovation category went to<>, a website to encourage more people to take the train between Torbay and Exeter, developed as part of the EU Citizens’ Rail project, led by the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership. The website – which resizes to suit laptops, tablets and smartphones – provides practical travel advice, tips on money-saving deals, and ideas for local days out by train.

Further up the line, the rebuilding of Dawlish station after last winter’s storms was also recognised, winning first prize in the Outstanding Teamwork category.

Torbay's Mayor, Gordon Oliver, said: “I was instrumental in bringing to the attention of all partners concerned, that investment was needed to bring the Grade II listed bridge and station up to date, and so enabling one of the gateways of Torbay to be restored to its former glory.

"I am delighted that the bridge and the station have been restored, and that further substantial works are to be taken in due course”.
Richard Burningham from the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership said: “I am delighted that we were so successful at the National Community Rail Awards and that a number of the partners who had been key to the winning projects from Dawlish and Torquay were able to be with us and First Great Western at the Awards evening too.

“The winning projects are the result of a lot of hard work by a lot of people. First Great Western’s help and strong support for the projects and what we do has been and is vital and we very much appreciate it.

“I was particularly pleased that two projects that are part of our EU Interreg Citizens’ Rail Project were successful.”

First Great Western Managing Director Mark Hopwood said: “I would like to offer my thanks and congratulations to all our partners involved in these awards.

“Our local Community Rail services are not only among the fastest growing, but also among the most reliable in the country and we look forward to continuing the work with our partners to deliver further improvements.

“Throughout the First Great Western network community rail groups play a leading role, adding value to projects designed to improve services and make stations safer, friendlier and greener.”
The National Community Rail Awards is an annual event which celebrates the work being done to promote and enhance Britain’s local and rural railways around the country.

Local partners in Citizens’ Rail – which is 50% funded by the EU’s Interreg IVB programme – include Devon County Council, Torbay Council, First Great Western, Plymouth University and the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership.


For more information contact Mike Parker-Bray at the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership on 01752 584777 or email

Notes to editors:

Citizens’ Rail is a €9.03 million EU project to develop local and regional railways by involving the community. It runs from May 2012 to September 2015. Through new and refurbished station buildings, more frequent services, volunteering, social outreach and local marketing campaigns, the project will get more people using and being part of their local train services. This is an innovative, low cost way to boost the economy, tackle transport needs and re-connect isolated populations.

EU Interreg IVB

INTERREG IVB NWE is a European Union programme designed to promote the economic, environmental, social and territorial future of the North-West Europe region. It invests 355 million euros from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in activities based on cooperation between partners from eight Member countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The INTERREG IVB NEW Programme allows partners from different countries to work together on mutually beneficial projects to address issues that extend beyond national frontiers.


News archive