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Help save our railway

You may be visiting this page becuase of the government's proposals to close ticket offices across England. We cover this below, but please read the introduction first.

The railways in Britain are failing to meet customer needs far too often. Whether a passenger or a freight customer, using the train is often an unsatisfactory experience. Cancellations and delays are too frequent, the fares system hasn't evolved to meet the needs of a post-Covid world (where many at work split their time between home and the workplace) and trains can be overcrowded, not just at traditional peak times, but all day every day. The railway has lost (and we don't think will ever get back) many of the five-day-a-week commuters, who bought expensive season tickets, but instead now needs to rely much more on the leisure market (and freight).

The government is micro-managing the railway — and has made it worse by having two Departments — involved in the detail by allocating revenue responsibility to HM Treasury and cost management to the Department for Transport. The typical response to the inevitable funding pressure is on cost reduction — often achieved by reducing train mileage and removing trains from the timetable, but now also by making changes to customer services at stations. And the way forward isn't clear either. Yes, at the high level we have the 'Great British Railways' concept, but how that will work at the level of detail needed to run an effective railway is still unclear? — what actually is a 'guiding mind'? And how can Train Operators be given freedom to innovate and encourage more passenger journeys in a way that improves it for not just their passengers, but everyone?

Station retailing: Railfuture, which is independent and answerable only to its members (i.e. rail supporters), can take a more productive and nuanced stance compared to other organisations, many of which appear to be simply opposing everything relating to station retailing and customer service changes. Railfuture doesn't oppose change. We realise the inevitability of change, but we want the best outcomes for passengers, and want to work constructively with the rail industry (with whom we have a good relationship) to achieve it, so that we will have a better railway, not just perpetuate what we have now (and may have had for decades before that).

We have been working hard studying the proposals, trying to get detail where it is absent, prior to producing our submission to the public consultation. We issued a press release entitled "Ticket Office closures - Penny wise, Pound foolish" on 2 July 2023, and have produced an article with our general views, where we call for 'sequencing' whereby other improvements are made before closing ticket offices.

Railfuture campaigns for both a 'bigger' and a 'better' railway and does this at both a national and a regional level. Nationally, we focus on topics such as fares & ticketing, structure, HS2, freight and de-carbonisation; our 14 local branches campaign on local issues such as train performance and services in their area and station and line re-openings — and support our national activity by providing essential input on local impacts and needs — we do not set policy from the centre by diktat. Our branches work with our affiliated Rail User Groups and other stakeholders to influence both the current railway (timetables, performance, station facilities etc) and the future railway (stations and new lines etc).

In addition to routinely responding to consultations, we engage with Train Operators, Network Rail, the Government, the Great British Railways Transition Team and all tiers of Government to put across our point of view and seek (and obtain) change and improvement. Where sensible we focus our effort on the change that we can achieve in that campaign — so we'll work with a Train Operator on the best timetable possible with the resources they've been told to use and, separately, campaign for a change in attitude from the Government to recognise the benefits of better train services.

If there was ever a best time to join Railfuture, it is NOW!

The more people that Railfuture can say it represents the better, so please consider joining us.

Help improve our railway

Railfuture campaigns strongly on behalf of all rail users for a bigger and better railway that will make life easier for current and future passengers:

  • value for money fares
  • better customer service
  • more seats and better on-board facilities
  • more frequent, reliable services
  • quicker, easier journeys
  • more accessible trains and stations
  • new services, stations and lines
  • shifting freight from road to rail.
Join us to help make your rail journey better. As a member, you'll enjoy the support of a campaigning, voluntary organisation which is passionate about improving the services that our railways deliver.

You can meet other members at your local branch meetings or our national conferences, contribute to our newsletters, magazine and website, and choose to play an active role in our campaigns.

Members and subscribers both receive our magazine, Railwatch, four times a year, information from their local/nominated Railfuture branch and invitations to conferences and events (members can vote at the national AGM, and at the AGM for the branch that they have selected). Some conferences offer an 'early bird' special rate that is limited to members (two members per RUG) and there may be member discounts on certain books and merchandise.

The more members we have, the more influence we can exert on rail investment and operational decisions. Membership is welcomed from throughout the world.

How your membership fee is used

Railfuture aims to spend your money wisely, with the vast majority on campaigning and publications/events for members. Only a small proportion of the fee (based on £20) is spent on administration as the pie-chart below shows:

Significant rail campaign project expenditure is often funded by legacies and donations, all of which are ring-fenced in Railfuture's Fighting Fund.

Join Us!

Membership of Railfuture is by an annual membership fee. It is £20 for individuals (£22 for joint), £14 if aged under 26, £25 for Rail User Groups, Local Authorities, and £35 for Businesses.

You can subscribe to Railwatch magazine without becoming a member of Railfuture. You would not receive the accounts or have any voting rights, and although you can be involved with Railfuture activites you could not hold an official position.

Please select the category of membership you or your organisation require from the first drop-down list below, enter a promotional code (if you have one) and click on the 'buy now' button. Current members of Young Rail Professionals (YRP) may join at the 'Under 26' rate, but please mention this in the PayPal notes. Then choose the number of years in the second box and click on the 'buy now' button.

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Alternatively you can download an application form here (PDF format), which should then be sent to:
Membership Secretary, Railfuture, 1 Queens Road, Barnetby le Wold, North Lincolnshire DN38 6JH

Terms and Conditions - Membership and Subscriptions

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Any enquiries about new membership can be sent to the Membership Secretary at the Membership Secretary postal address above, or email [membership at railfuture.org.uk].

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