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Increasing local services - Seize The Sunday

The Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership (DCRP) wanted to make sure that the long-awaited trial of a year-round half-hourly Sunday service on the Exeter-Exmouth line was a big enough success for the extra trains to be continued long-term.

Company - Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership

How was this solved?

In partnership with Great Western Railway (GWR), the project began by commissioning a behaviour change agency to run focus groups and interviews to understand local audiences and their attitudes to Sunday travel.

This informed an online and offline marketing campaign which included a website, targeted Facebook adverts, three videos, press coverage, door-to-door leaflets and partnerships with businesses.

Catchy campaigns work best, so DCRP invented ‘Seize The Sunday’ – a slogan that stuck in the mind and emphasised that Sundays are unique: they can be dull and slip by, or can be the most care-free, fun day of the week.

Activities included:

Online

  • Website: www.SeizeTheSunday.org was the campaign hub – with information about the extra services, journey times and fares. The site’s blog provided ideas for days out along the line – from local festivals to places for brunch near each station. The site is responsive, displaying well on mobiles, tablets and desktops.
  • Facebook ads: Targeted Facebook ads were shown to residents of towns and villages served by the line. The ads were tailored to each location, giving people relevant day trip ideas, fares and journey times from their nearest station. Many recipients shared the posts with friends. They were also able to ask questions beneath the posts and receive swift answers from DCRP. The ads offered excellent value. For example, one £25 ad reached nearly 5,000 people.
  • Videos: Three short videos were produced to inspire people to take the train. Each featured a different day trip idea. The films were embedded on the website and shared on social media.
  • Twitter: DCRP’s @AvocetLine account raised the profile of the line and promoted the extra services. It now has more than 1,300 followers. The hashtag #SeizeTheSunday was used throughout the campaign.
  • Photo competition: DCRP ran a summer photo competition, with local residents sending in photos of their trips to win a pair of First Class tickets to London, provided by GWR.

Offline

  • Local press coverage: A launch photo-call and ongoing programme of press releases secured repeat coverage in key local newspapers.
  • Newspaper adverts: The press releases were supported by local newspaper adverts to reinforce the message.
  • Station banners: Eye-catching banners were displayed at stations to encourage existing rail users to take Sunday trips.
  • Door-to-door leaflets: Five station-specific door-to-door leaflets gave residents travel information tailored to their nearest station.

Community engagement

  • Partnerships with local businesses: Local shops and cafes stocked Seize The Sunday postcards, and DCRP published blog posts about top independent places to shop and eat on Sundays in the local area.
  • Community newsletters and social media: Articles were secured in the newsletters of local Community Associations and Community Centres. Meanwhile Residents Associations and Friends of the Station groups spread the word via social media.
  • Local poster campaign: A4 posters were displayed on community noticeboards.

What were the outcomes?

During the main campaign period (May-December 2016), Sunday journey figures on the Avocet Line jumped by 22.5% compared with the same period the previous year.

Travel across the rest of the week was also boosted, with Monday-Saturday journey figures up by more than 7% year-on-year.

Thanks to the strong Sunday performance GWR committed to continuing the extra services throughout 2017.

Principles

  • Having a positive social impact
  • Optimising the railway
  • Supporting the economy

Asset/ operations

  • Operations
  • Organisation type
  • Community Rail Partnership
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