IN the long history of the Tyne Valley, almost nothing has had as big an impact on the area as the railways.

They connected isolated villages and transported everything from coal to letters to people, whilst Wylam’s George Stephenson is renowned around the world as ‘The Father of the Railways.’

His son, Robert, created the legendary Rocket, the most advanced train of the day which still remains on display at the Science Museum in London, and the Newcastle to Carlisle railway line has been in operation through the district for the past 180 years.

With the history of the railway so intertwined with the history of the Tyne Valley, it’s no surprise that the Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership is trying to encourage more people to explore the historic and scenic destinations and attractions that surround their local railway lines.

Community rail partnerships are local groups that work to get the most out of a community’s railways.

The Tynedale partnership is working to achieve that aim by taking part in a project organised by the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP), and visited London to promote the region’s routes.

From 7am to 7pm on May 16, members of the partnership took part in the Community Rail in the City event at King’s Cross station in London.

Fiona Forsythe, from Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership, said: “Community Rail in the City is a great opportunity for us to promote our wonderful railway line to thousands of commuters and potential visitors.

“We hope that Community Rail in the City will help us get that across to wider audiences and encourage people to visit by rail and extend their journey by bus rather than using the car.

“As well as being a more relaxing and pleasurable way to travel, visiting Hadrian’s Wall country by rail benefits the local economy, and means less traffic, noise and pollution in our communities.”

Community Rail in the City is the flagship event for community rail groups.

The annual event aims to promote sustainable travel for both tourism and recreation.

This year saw Tynedale and 23 other rail partnerships and their partners visit 11 mainline stations across the capital.

The groups’ mission was to provide inspiration and information to help families, tourists and day trippers plan visits to the UK’s best visitor destinations and hidden gems, all reachable by train.

By using the country’s ‘community rail’ routes, the partnerships suggest that both tourists and locals will avoid the stress of driving whilst also travelling sustainibly.

Given the fact that the Edinburgh to London line has just reverted to public ownership after operatrors Virgin and Stagecoach could no longer keep up with agreed payments to the Government, you could be forgiven for thinking rail travel is on its knees

But tourism by rail is making an increasingly vital contribution to local economies.

According to statistics from the Tourism Alliance, rail usage for tourism has increased by 30 per cent over the last 10 years, with around three million visitors a year using the train as part of their trip, adding £510m to the UK economy.

Chief executive of the Association of Community Rail Partnerships Jools Townsend said: “We’re really pleased that Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership is getting involved in this important national campaign to promote exploration of their historic and scenic local railway lines.

“Across Britain, community railway lines take you off the beaten track to some of our most amazing and fascinating destinations – and travel on them is especially rewarding, as they play a crucial part in our heritage and bring you right into the heart of communities.

“This sort of tourism by rail is great for families and holidaymakers. It’s more sustainable than driving and it provides a critical boost to local economies.”

This year’s Community Rail in the City event has been particularly focused on promoting exploration of historic places and events by railway.

As a result, this year the Tynedale Community Railway Partnership showcased the district’s Roman Heritage – with the help of two re-enactors!

Fiona added: “We know very well that the region has so much to offer domestic and foreign visitors.

“In particular, we’re suggesting that people take the train to Hexham or Haltwhistle and catch Go Ahead North East’s bus service, appropriately named AD122, to visit several of the Wall’s attractions.”