EAST Lothian volunteers were among 1,200 members of a nationwide grassroots community rail movement working through the Covid-19 pandemic to keep railways at the forefront of a “greener transport future”.

A Community Rail In Scotland report, released last month and sponsored by the Rail Delivery Group, highlighted that more than 1,200 volunteers give 55,000 hours annually, valued at £4.7 million, to help promote sustainable and healthy travel.

East Lothian Community Rail Partnership (CRP), part of Community Rail Network’s nine partnerships and 260 station groups, takes part in activities including community gardening and biodiversity projects at stations; community arts and heritage projects; working with rail industry partners towards improvements and integration, such as shelters, signage, pedestrian and cyclist access; and events, workshops and activities to promote sustainable travel.

It has also worked closely with Prestonpans Community Council to find a permanent solution to the deteriorating murals at Prestonpans station.

Harry Barker, chairman of East Lothian Community Rail Partnership, said: “The rail partnership will be playing its part to encourage a return to train travel after the current crisis and has already put ScotRail in touch with some local tourist attractions in North Berwick to encourage discounted entry fees where a rail ticket is held.”

Jools Townsend, chief executive of Community Rail Network, said: “In Scotland, community rail partnerships and groups have adapted and responded, supporting communities through the pandemic, maintaining positivity, and advising rail partners on shifting local needs.

“Community rail is all about communities and connectedness, and people working together locally to make things better for each other and our shared future – that couldn’t be more important right now.”

Ros Houldsworth, ScotRail’s community liaison executive, said: “From promoting tourism to improving station connectivity, from increasing opportunities for young people to encouraging environmental ambitions, the impact of community rail continues to grow.”