South Western Railway joined its newest Community Rail Partnership, Surrey Hills to South Downs, to provide a unique ‘Try the Train’ experience and prepare Year 6 pupils for secondary school.
Sixty children from St Bartholomew's Church of England Primary School, Haslemere, were delighted when volunteer Community Ambassadors, Ian Edwards, Andy Harrowell, Andrew Renton and Sheree Whetren, with CRP representatives, County Councillor Nikki Barton, and Ken Griffiths, dropped in to speak about travelling by train.
During a tailor-made presentation, ambassadors quizzed the pupils on how to buy tickets, where they could get service information, as well as how to keep themselves safe at stations and on-board trains. Their knowledge was then put into practice, with the children split into two groups for a station visit and short train ride.
The first group were accompanied on the journey they would take in September via Liss station to Bohunt Secondary school, and were then greeted by their new Headmaster and his team. The other group were given the chance to take the train to Petersfield station, a summer destination they wanted to visit.
Andy Harrowell, SWR’s Community Rail Manager, said:
"Our Community Ambassador programme was set up to help those who don’t normally travel by train to develop their confidence.
"It was a pleasure to help these children learn how to make their journey to their new school by train, as well as encourage them to think about other locations they could access. The youngsters were a credit to the school - listening to the information we had to share and asking insightful questions."
Cllr Nikki Barton, Chair Surrey Hills to South Downs CRP, and Surrey County Councillor and Town Councillor for Haslemere South, said:
"Encouraging pupils in Haslemere to both take the train safely, and to think more about how they get to the station using more sustainable transport - walking, cycling and bus - whenever they can, is a key priority of the Surrey Hills to South Downs Community Rail Partnership.
"The year 6 St Bart’s pupils were a great credit to the school, and the SWR travel ambassadors and station staff were extremely welcoming and helpful by answering the many great questions from the children throughout the day.
"As a partnership, we look forward to rolling out the 'Try the Train' initiative with all local primary schools in collaboration with SWR and their Community Ambassadors."
SWR has 35 Community Ambassadors, staff who go beyond their day to day roles to deliver ‘Try the Train’ experiences for anyone who does not travel on the railway and would like to increase their confidence. This includes the young, elderly, those with disabilities or individuals seeking employment.