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As the largest passenger train operator outside of London, Northern connects people and communities across the North of England. But it’s not just about running trains; we are committed to making a positive difference wherever we can, and this is reflected in our vision, which is ‘to make a positive impact for the North in all we do and for all we serve’.

What are we looking for?

This year we will focus specifically on improving social mobility through support to access to employment and training opportunities. A recent study has shown that UK social mobility is at its worst in over 50 years and as this is at the heart of many future plans at Northern – including early careers, education outreach and inclusive employment, we are therefore looking to support initiatives/projects aimed at improving social mobility for those living and working in our most deprived communities.

The Customer and Community Improvement Fund will consider proposals that will bring benefit locally across our network (which is pretty much anywhere in the north of England but check our route map if you are not sure). Projects do not need to be linked to one of our stations or have a specific connection to rail but should be delivered within 10 miles of one of our station or depot locations.

If you’re unsure as to whether your scheme or project meets our criteria or you have questions regarding your application, please email [email protected]

Individual grants with a value of up to £20,000, £10,000, or £2,500 are available. The total funding available is £100,000. Match funding isn’t a requirement but will be looked at favourably for schemes with a higher overall value.

What won’t fit the bill

We’re open to any great ideas but there are a few things that we wouldn’t be able to consider project funding for.  Successful schemes must not:

  • Provide a commercial return to Northern require ongoing fundingbe feasibility studies into new services, new railway lines / routes or new stationsbe something we would be expected to deliver as part of our business plan commitments (we can advise if you’re not sure)require any element of delivery by Northern
  • Schemes must be completed by the 31 March 2025 so anything with a completion timescale beyond this would not be eligible. Please note that if successful, you will be required to provide a progress report 6 months after the receipt of the grant, as well as a final report by 11th April 2025.

Who can apply?

Pretty much anyone!  We welcome applications from customers, stakeholders, community groups, charities, not for profit organisations and our own Northern colleagues. If you have previously received a CCIF grant, you may still apply but your application must be for a different project.

I’ve got a great idea/project, how do I apply?

You need to complete our online application form.  The form needs to be completed in one go, unfortunately you can’t save it and go back to it later so we have a pdf example available here to help you make sure you have all the information ready that you will need. 

What happens next?

Applications open 13 May 2024 and will close at 23.59 on 7 June 2024. Any applications prior and after the deadline not be accepted. All applications will be reviewed and assessed against the criteria above.  A review panel will then collate a list of recommended schemes to take forward.

In September, we’ll send the list to Rail North Partnership (the organisation that manages our franchise on behalf of Department for Transport and Transport for the North) for final approval. Funding awards will begin from 1 October 2024. Please note that the organisation applying must have a linked bank account - no funds will be paid into the account of an individual, regardless of their capacity within the organisation.

We will do our best to notify all applicants at the earliest opportunity whether their application has been successful or not.  Due to the volume of applications we receive, we will not be able to provide individual feedback on unsuccessful applications.

If you have any concerns or questions, you can contact us at [email protected].

Good Luck!

Case studies

Our last round of the Customer and Community Improvement Fund benefitted 21 amazing projects, here are some examples.

View case studies

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