Author: Linda Bell

Children visited Santa and enjoyed craft activities at Kent Community Rail Partnership’s (KCRP) ‘Visit Santa’ event at Maidstone West Railway Station on Saturday 16 December.

The event was attended by over 100 children who were able to undertake craft activities and listen to St. Michael’s primary school choir in the ticket office before visiting Santa in his grotto on platform 2.

This very positive event allowed KCRP Officers to discuss and encourage greater walking, cycling and train use along the Medway Valley and Swale Rail Lines with the attendees.

This was a free event and over £150 was raised for Railway Children.  Railway Children is an international children’s charity working with street children in the UK and abroad.

Over thirty walkers joined us on our annual Medway Valley Rail Trail Walk on Sun 19 Nov from Strood Station.  We left at 10am on a cool but bright morning for the 4.7mile/7.5km circular walk.  The walk took us along the edge of the River Medway, past historic landmarks and through pockets of stunning countryside nestled in the suburbs of Strood.  Graeme Jenkins from the Medway Ramblers led the walk.

You can download a copy of the walk details here



ReCYCLE is a Bicycle Recycling Programme run by Cycle Community CIC a Community Interest Company based in Ashford, Kent.

They operate an outreach programme ReCYCLE Kent which enables them to share the benefits of their programme to communities across Kent.

Pick up your Affordable Refurbished Bicycle at their next Bike Sale Event


A packed train of 108 witches and wizards left Maidstone West Station on Friday 27th October for the ride of their life on the Medway Valley Ghost Train. Brave souls took part in face painting, balloon modelling and the really brave put their hand in goo to find the spider!

This was all to support the charity The Railway Children – an international children‘s charity working with street children in India, East Africa and the UK. They fight for vulnerable children who live alone at risk on the streets, where they suffer abuse and exploitation.

The event was organised by the Kent Community Rail Partnership and supported by the Rosters team at Southeastern, headed by Emma Irons and raised £58.42 for the Railway Children.

Funding for the activities was kindly donated by KCC members Rob Bird, Dan Daley & Paulina Stockell.

Sue Murray, Chair of Kent Community Rail Partnership said:

“The Ghost Train event was such a happy one.  I thought all were dressed for the occasion and some of the children’s outfits were quite amazing!”

Marie Northfield, Area Manager Ashford, Southeastern said:

“It was a really successful event. Great job, and thank you to everyone who found time to leave their day jobs to come and help.”

On Thursday 5 October, Swale Rail Community Rail Partnership, Historical Research Group of Sittingbourne and Kent Community Rail Partnership celebrated first place for ‘Ambulance Train’ event for best community engagement event at the National Community Rail Awards 2017 at Derby Roundhouse.


This was a hugely ambitious, extremely successful event involving 21 local Community Groups, during the remembrance period in November 2016, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Ambulance Trains which departed Kent in WW1.  Highly interactive, with events at 7 locations and involving a dedicated “Poppy-branded” Javelin High Speed train to transport public and re-enactors between locations, used for the first time on SwaleRail. Nearly a year in the planning, the event demonstrated the best in teamwork by a wide range of volunteers, supported by Kent CRP, HRGS and led by the indomitable Linda Brinklow, Chair of SwaleRail Community Rail Partnership.

 The awards, which are now in their 13th year, recognise the important but often unsung work carried out by community rail partnerships and station adoption groups, amongst others, who provide a welcome social and economic contribution, with their activities, to their communities.

On Thursday 5 October, Southeastern & partners celebrated second place for ‘Snodland Station’ event for most enhanced station buildings & surroundings at the National Community Rail Awards 2017 at Derby Roundhouse.

Snodland Station is a grade 2 listed building built in 1856 and has been refurbished to cater for the growing number of passengers using the station since the introduction of high speed services 5 years ago.  Coinciding with 160 years of the station the refurbishment created a transport interchange, an extended car park and saw the ticket office re-open for the first time since 1986 providing passengers with a brighter and more accessible station with re-instated period features.  This success of this project was its early liaison and ongoing communication and cooperation between Southeastern and a wide variety of partners.

The awards, which are now in their 13th year, recognise the important but often unsung work carried out by community rail partnerships and station adoption groups, amongst others, who provide a welcome social and economic contribution, with their activities, to their communities.

 David Wornham, Passenger Services Director Southeastern

‘Stations are a part of our community and Snodland has gone from strength to strength serving  the demands of the local area and business, this recognition is great credit to everyone involved who has transformed Snodland into the vibrant transport hub we see today’

Sue Murray, Chair of Kent Community Rail Partnership

“The ACORP Gala Awards Night was a wonderful celebration of all things Community Rail and to receive acknowledgement for ourselves and our partners as runners up with the refurbishment of Snodland Station and its environment was just the icing on the cake.”

A shortlist of three bidders has  been announced to compete to run the new South Eastern franchise, which is due to start in December 2018. They are:

  • Abellio (joint venture between Abellio and the consortium of East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui)
  • Govia
  • Stagecoach

Kent Community Rail Partnership have produced a “wish list” for the bidders to consider and the list can be found here  Franchise Renewal – Kent CRP comments_Final

The list voices our aspirations and at this point it is not known what can be achieved. We are working closely with the bidders to ensure that the best outcomes are achieved for our lines. Further updates will be published as we receive them.


The trail is a free, family friendly, self-guided walk along ‘Watling Street’, an important Roman road, which runs through the historic heart of Sittingbourne. Many travellers have visited Sittingbourne over the centuries, including royalty. Today, many of the buildings that were used by them are still there, you just have to look up above the modern shop fronts, or down the side alleys at the backs of the buildings, to see them as they once were.

A leaflet will encourage walkers to discover the history of some of the main buildings, by finding pictures of 15 cats, which are displayed in the participating outlets’ windows. The cat connection comes from the story of Florence and Thomas Gisby, who lived in Cockleshell Walk in Sittingbourne around a hundred years ago. They owned cats, which roamed the town, and each cat had a favourite place to sit. Photos of the Trail’s cats now sit in the windows around the town. Walkers are encouraged to find them all and collect a sticker from Baileys Coffee Shop.

The ‘Historic Sittingbourne’s Cat Trail’ is available from The Heritage Hub, Baileys Coffee Shop and other participating businesses. The launch on 8th July will help promote the leaflet, and to let the wider community know about the town trail. The launch coincides with the town’s Artisan Market and additional stands will be found in the town, including the Cat’s Protection League and Sittingbourne Retail Association. The Forum Shopping Centre will be having a free craft table for children to be involved it ‘cat creative ideas’.

Participating venues are:
The Heritage Hub, Bengal Spice Restaurant, Hawkesford James Estate Agents, The Baptist Church, Bairstow Eves Estate Agents, Sittingbourne Library, Wishes Hairdressers, Popes Optician, Reaching People Though Music, Front Row Hairdressers at The New Century Cinema, Joe’s Men’s Hairdressers, The Old Forge War Time House, Sittingbourne Heritage Museum, St. Michael’s Church, and Baileys Coffee Shop are participating in the Trail.

The walk will take around half an hour, but will depend how quickly someone walks and how closely they want to look at the architecture.

Historic Cat Trail leaflet – website