Improving experience

We care about your journey from start to finish - what we call an end-to-end experience, as described in our Customer Service strategy.

We want to provide better facilities that connect with other transport networks and provide safe and convenient travel options.

But this isn't all that improving experience means to us. It also means boosting people's health and wellbeing by improving their access to green space and recreational areas.

Our Designated Funds programme provides a significant proportion of our active travel investment.

Castlefield viaduct - Manchester's garden in the sky

Inspired by New York’s High Line, Castlefield Viaduct is the result of a unique partnership with the National Trust, alongside lead community partner Castlefield forum and other local groups.

Built in 1892 by Heenan & Froude, the firm behind the iconic Blackpool Tower, the disused structure had been closed to the public since 1969.

Then, in February 2022, work started to transform the 130-year-old viaduct into a floating urban park. Green space is important for wellbeing, especially in an area where 52,000 residents don't have access to private gardens.

National Trust's vision was to create an walkway for people to explore, surrounded by plants and flowers. It would give visitors a space to connect with nature and learn about history. It's part of the trust's ‘For everyone, for ever’ strategy to provide people with permanent access to nature.

We're responsible for maintaining the structure on behalf of its owner, the Department for Transport, as part of the Historical Railway Estate. We worked very closely with National Trust and the project team, making sure the public could use the viaduct safely.

The project has been open to the public as a pilot since 2022. So far, nearly 50,000 people have visited the viaduct. Feedback is positive, with 98% of visitors wanting to have permanent access to the site. Permission to operate has been extended for another two years.

Learn more about Castlefield Viaduct and book a visit.

Castlefield viaduct before work started
Castlefield viaduct before work started. Images ©National Trust Images James Dobson
Open to the public
Open to the public. Image ©National Trust Images Paul Harris
"Bringing nature and beauty to the centre of urban areas is something that we are passionate about. We want to bring more nature, beauty and history to urban areas as we know the benefits it can bring in terms of health, wellbeing, community and placemaking"
Duncan Laird, Head of Urban Places, the National Trust

Investing in active travel routes

We're committed to improving facilities for walkers, cyclists and horse riders, as part of our road schemes and through our designated funds:

A27 East of Lewes

The A27 is key route along the south coast used by thousands every day.

This stretch of road was quite narrow in areas and there were only a few places for walkers, cyclists and horse riders to cross safely. 

We’ve made changes to improve safety and the flow of traffic by putting in new crossings, adding lanes at key junctions.

We've also built a 13km shared-use path from Firle in the west to Polegate in the east.

Since opening in 2023, the path been a popular hit with walkers, cyclists and horse riders of all ages and abilities.

The route follows the A27 for almost nine miles, connecting local communities and providing greater accessibility to nearby places and businesses – including the South Downs National Park.

New path alongside the A27
The new path runs alongside the A27 for 13km from Firle to Polegate
Cyclist on new bridge
New bridge across the Cuckmere
Planting alongside new route
New planting along the route

We’ve also worked with Natural England and the South Downs National Park Authority to protect and enhance the local environment by:

  • planting more than 3,000 new trees, creating new habitats for beetles, bats, frogs and birds
  • adding 32,000 plants along the route which will establish into new hedgerows
"The work carried out to improve the A27 has been very helpful for keen cyclists such as the Worthing Excelsior Club. The lanes have been widened which makes it much safer for the riders as previously it was a narrow carriageway and cars were queued behind us, putting us under pressure. We can now move freely and safely across the A27 and we use It regularly."
Robert Downham, Worthing Excelsior Cycling Club

The Saints Trail

An £11.3 million investment, from our designated users and communities fund, has improved facilities for walkers and cyclists in the South West.

Opened in Summer 2023, the Saints Trails initiative is one of the largest-ever cycling infrastructure investments in the South West region.

Cyclists, walkers and horse riders can enjoy the three miles of safer travel through the Cornish countryside, including the former Perranporth to Chacewater railway line.

The funding will also provide a new cycleway between Sevenmilestone and Chiverton. This will link up with a European Structural and Investment funded section from St Agnes.

As part of that project, Cornwall Council is also delivering a new trail from West Langarth to Threemilestone, including a new bridge over the A30 at Chiverton.

Other South West projects we've funded have include £6.2 million to Gloucestershire County Council towards their ongoing cycleway projects.

We've also provided £1.2 million of funding for North Somerset Council:

  • for the pier to pier project for a cycle path between Weston-super-Mare and Clevedon
  • to complete the final part of the cycle route between Brean and Portishead