Great Rail Experience-2

GWR and CrossCountry grants will help to promote a taste for travel in Gloucestershire

Projects designed to promote Gloucestershire as a ‘Great Rail Experience’ have received £30,000 each from Great Western Railway and long-distance operator CrossCountry.

Gloucestershire Community Rail Partnership is spearheading work to provide bookable Taste for Travel trails and experiences. The trails will encourage visitors to see rail as part of the adventure, leave the station to explore nearby attractions and experience local businesses.

Working with Visit Gloucestershire, district destination marketing organisations and the private sector, the Taste for Travel project will secure local benefits and encourage visitors to discover the county using sustainable modes of transport.                   

Great Rail Experience 1

By developing strategic destination management tools they will identify best practise models around partnership working, so that rail experiences can be replicated successfully nationally to support the sustainability agenda and economic recovery of the visitor economy.

As part of their franchise agreements with the Department for Transport, train operators are committed to funding projects proposed by their Community Rail Partnerships.

Gloucestershire Community Rail Partnership Co-Director Hannah McDonnell said:

“We are extremely grateful for the support from both Great Western Railway and CrossCountry. As part of our Taste for Travel bookable experiences, we have already worked on a food and farm trail and a cycling and walking trail for Stonehouse, as well as a food and drink trail in Cheltenham, and a food, farm and forest trail in Lydney.

“The idea is that people step out of the station to enjoy an experience, make the most of local businesses and even stay at a local hotel. It’s about making it a ‘Great Rail Experience’.

“This ties in nicely with our plans to develop a strategic destination management experience to benefit Community Rail Partnerships across the country. We want to create a robust and resilient strategy, where rail users can recognise the potential to reduce carbon through rail experiences.

“In five years’ time you could be anywhere in the country or visiting from abroad – with the development of this strategy you’ll be able to learn about amazing rail experiences right on your doorstep.”

Visit Gloucestershire director Steve Gardner-Collins said:

"We are delighted and excited to be working with GCRP and partners to deliver this great project that incorporates everyone’s favourite experiences. Food and drink is a perfect example of how visitors to Gloucestershire can get a flavour of what’s on offer throughout the area.

"Combining travel and food we can encourage visitors to choose sustainable transport methods whilst giving our county-wide producers an opportunity to showcase their products and services and give our visitors memorable experiences."

Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie said:

“It is great to see Stroud and Stonehouse featuring in the new Taste for Travel programme. Gloucestershire CRP, GWR and CrossCountry are to be congratulated on such a great initiative. Not only does it support local businesses and our local communities, but it promotes sustainable travel by train, by foot and by bike.

“I’m supporting many local initiatives for sustainable travel and I hope that this and other projects will mean we see many more visitors to the area.”

GWR Community Rail Development Manager Ann Jenner said:

“We have a specific pot of money designed to support the Community Rail Partnerships on our network who in turn work with their local communities. These are two pioneering projects which will not only help to encourage rail travel, but boost local economies and put communities at the heart of the development process.”

CrossCountry Stakeholder Liaison Manager David Jones said:

“CrossCountry is delighted to support these exciting projects to encourage visitors and residents of Gloucestershire to use rail travel as part of a packaged bookable experience. Our long-distance trains directly serve Ashchurch for Tewkesbury, Cheltenham Spa, Gloucester and Lydney stations, which are all gateways to a host of experiences in different parts of Gloucestershire. These are ground-breaking community initiatives.”

Notes to editors

First Greater Western Limited, trading as “Great Western Railway” (GWR), operates trains across the Great Western franchise area, which includes South Wales, the West Country, the Cotswolds, across southern England and into London. GWR provides high speed, commuter, regional and branch line train services, and before the covid-19 pandemic helped over 100 million passengers reach their destinations every year. GWR was recently awarded an extension to its direct award franchise (called DA3), which shall run up to 31 March 2023, with an option to extend for a further year. Find out more here: 

CrossCountry’s network, as a long-distance passenger train operator, stretches from Aberdeen to Penzance and from Stansted to Cardiff, with calls at 123 stations. Based in Birmingham, it connects seven of Britain’s 10 largest cities and (pre-Covid) delivered 298 services every weekday, equating to over 42 million passenger journeys each year. For further information on CrossCountry services visit or follow them online via Twitter at @crosscountryuk or  CrossCountry is part of the Arriva group, one of the leading providers of passenger transport in Europe. Arriva employs over 53,000 people and delivers over 2 billion passenger journeys across 14 European countries each year. See more of what Gloucestershire has to offer on Facebook: @discovergloucestershire or Instagram: @visitglosuk

Contact Information

John Carter

Media and Communications Manager

Great Western Railway

0845 410 4444

07715 040424