PROJECTS connected to railways and which address an area of social need can apply for a slice of Great Western Railway’s Customer and Community Improvement Fund.

Following the success of last year’s scheme, in which GWR supported 52 projects totalling more than £900K, GWR is inviting funding bids for customer and community projects.

As part of its National Rail contract with the Department for Transport, the train operator is committed to supporting schools, colleges, councils, community and other not-for-profit organisations by aiding a number of initiatives.

The Strawberry Line Cycle Project, a not-for-profit cycle hire scheme at Yatton station, used a grant of £13,150 to expand its fleet of bikes. This included purchasing a Veloplus wheelchair accessible bike, fitted with a power pack to give riders greater ease and the ability to travel further.

Now, GWR is inviting bids for 2024/25. Schemes must show a link to the railway and address an area of social need.

Applications must be submitted via an online portal on GWR’s website here, where there is also guidance notes on making a successful bid. All proposals must be submitted by 23.59pm on Monday, March 25.

GWR’s Growth Manager for Wales & West of England, Rich Middleton, said:“The Customer and Community Improvement Fund is a fantastic opportunity for us to invest in projects that really make a difference to our customers and communities at a local level. We’re really keen to stress that all bids must relate to rail and address an area of social need.

“We are particularly interested in schemes that benefit customers, increase rail travel, encourage carbon reduction, connect communities, people and places, support economic growth, promote inclusion and diversity, and educational programmes that support careers in rail or increase awareness and experience of public transport and rail safety.

“A good bid will show a strong level of community involvement and support and the proposal will have benefits that last beyond the duration of the project.”

Bids can vary in size, but GWR is particularly looking for small and medium bids to maximise the number of communities it can help.