A £1m competition to encourage more visitors to travel by rail to see hidden gems across the UK is today launched by the Department for Transport with support from RSSB.
Aimed particularly at heritage railways and community rail partnerships the competition will offer grants to rail operators for innovative ideas and trials. It hopes to encourage more tourists and make it easier to explore the UK by rail.
The competition is expected to generate around 20 winners, who will receive grants ranging from £25,000 to £75,000 to develop their ideas.
Projects could include improving the connectivity of heritage and community rail, improved disability access, special ticketing offers and better cycle facilities at stations.
The vast majority of heritage railways and community railways are outside London and one key objective is to encourage more tourists to travel to destinations beyond the capital. Currently, around 10 million people a year visit a heritage railway with the sector contributing an estimated £250m to the UK economy.
Community rail lines account for around 40m journeys per year. They are often rural based and many support the tourism industry of these areas.
The competition is part of the government's five point plan to boost tourism across the UK.
Entries for the competition must be submitted by March 24. A pitching event will take place in London on 10 May.