British government offers £1m prize to encourage heritage railway tourism
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British government offers £1m prize to encourage heritage railway tourism

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The British government has launched a £1m (US$1.4m, €1.3m) competition open to rail and heritage rail operators in an attempt to encourage more tourists to use the UK’s railways.

Set up by the department for transport, the competition offers grants to rail operators to fund innovative ideas and is aimed particularly at the nation’s heritage railways and community rail partnerships (CRPs).

The majority of heritage railways are located outside the capital, with a key objective of the competition to encourage overseas tourists to travel to destinations beyond London. According to government statistics, around 10 million people visit heritage railways in the UK every year, with the sector thought to be worth around £250m (US$352m, €323m) to the nation's economy.

The UK’s community rail lines – lines and stations supported by local organisations, usually through CRPs – account for around 40 million journeys each year, mostly in rural areas which use rail lines to support tourism.

The government expects the competition to generate around 20 winners, with grants ranging from £25,000 (US$35,000, €32,000) to £75,000 (US$106,000, €97,000) to develop winning ideas.

“We want more tourists to experience the best of Britain beyond the capital and help boost local economies across the country,” said tourism and heritage minister, David Evennett. “Heritage railways are a huge draw for tourists and this competition will encourage more visitors to see some of the hidden gems this country has to offer.”

Entries for the competition must be submitted by 4 April, with a pitching event taking place in London on 10 May.

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The British government has launched a £1m (US$1.4m, €1.3m) competition open to rail and heritage rail operators in an attempt to encourage more tourists to use the UK’s railways.
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