VOLUNTEERS of a community rail partnership were celebrating becoming the first in the North to attain accreditation from the Department for Transport (DfT).

Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership made history when it was recently awarded Accreditation Status from the governmental body.

The accreditation is formal recognition by the DfT that a community rail partnership operates to a high standard, and that its objectives and activities are supported by Government.

Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership had been working to develop a clear activity action plan over the past few months which would deliver the strategies set out in the DfT’s community rail development strategy across the Newcastle to Carlisle line for the benefit of users and communities along the route.

The group was praised for taking an ‘exciting and innovative approach’ to attracting new visitors to tourist hotspots along the route, with a particular focus on Hadrian’s Wall.

Kulvinder Bassi, the community rail team leader for the DfT, said: “I’m delighted with the great work being done by the volunteers at Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership.

“Through their hard work, they are really bringing to life their community rail strategy for the benefit of all who use the line.”

Fiona Forsythe, the rail partnership’s officer, said: “We are delighted to have achieved accreditation, and to be the first community rail partnership on the Northern network to do so.

“It is recognition of the many, many hours of hard work which our volunteers give to our communities and to promoting the Tyne Valley Line.”

Helping it gain the status, the partnership recently showed its willingness to branch out by welcoming its first tourism development intern, Matthew Barratt, to the team. He took the lead and masterminded the partnership’s recent Hadrian’s Wall display at Glasgow Central Station as part of CrossCountry’s Community Rail in the City project.

Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnerships’ application for the accreditation was supported by Arriva rail operators Northern and CrossCountry.

Marie Addison, the regional community and sustainability manager for Northern, said “Northern is fully supportive of the new accreditation scheme for community rail partnerships, which aligns the four pillars of the new community rail strategy and recognises the importance of community rail.”