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Arriva Rail North, which will begin operating the new Northern rail franchise from 1st April, has announced the establishment of a new community rail group which will provide support and advice for the operator’s engagement with community rail partnerships.

The new Community Rail Executive Group (COMREG) will be made up of 15 industry professionals along with local community representatives and sustainability experts. Led by Arriva, it will help ensure that through the franchise, Arriva is engaging closely with local communities, working in partnership to deliver rail-related projects, and maintaining a strong level of funding for community-based activities.

The group, which will meet quarterly, will be chaired on an interim basis by Arriva’s Professor Paul Salveson, who set up the successful Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) in 1997. It will also include ACoRP’s general manager Neil Buxton and Sally Buttifant, who managed the award-winning Mid-Cheshire Community Rail Partnership.

Chris Burchell, Managing Director of Arriva’s UK Trains Division, said: “The Community Rail Executive Group is a key part of our approach to developing community engagement across the Northern franchise. COMREG will help guide this approach which includes a major increase in funding for community activities. We are inheriting a network of 19 community rail partnerships and over 30 station friends groups. We intend to build on those relations, on what has been achieved to date, and deepen our involvement with communities across the North.”

Cllr Liam Robinson , Chair of Rail North Ltd, added: “Community Rail has achieved some fantastic outcomes across the North and Rail North is keen to see it developed further. It's good to see that Arriva is making a very positive start creating a forum for passengers, operators, local politicians and user groups to share best practice. As the experience of creating Rail North has shown, by working together we can create a better rail network for the benefit of everyone in the north of England.”

Sally Buttifant, a member of COMREG added: “I’m delighted to be invited to join COMREG and excited by the commitment Arriva has made to supporting our work over the coming years.”

Note To Editors

The development marks a further milestone in Arriva’s mobilisation for the delivery of the franchise which was awarded by the Department for Transport in December 2015. From 1 April 2016, Arriva will begin operating the nine-year contract which will see extensive investment in new and refurbished trains, as well as extra services, increased capacity and a variety of station and ticketing improvements.