Go-op Co-operative

go-op logo

Go-op Co-operative’s story:

Somerset has a lot of train stations but they are often hard to travel between due to infrequent services and London-centric routes. SWCD (then known as SCS) helped to create a group of people who were frustrated by this issue, and propose a business solution. In 2004, they got a grant of from the Co-op group to do some initial feasibility research.
The idea was to create a route that would connect up all of the other existing services, while ensuring it would be profitable. Deciding on a route was one of the hardest parts of getting Go-op Co-operative to where it is now.
Acknowledging that Go-op was a risky investment due to not having any assets, SWCD tried to concentrate on building up intangible assets, including the safety management system and track access application.
There have been many times when Go-op was close to putting in a Track Access Application to the Office of Rail and Road (the regulatory approval needed to operate trains on the railway), but after a lot of setbacks, this was finally achieved in 2023.


  • 2009: SWCD developed the Somerset rules, allowing Go-op to raise the capital it would need while protecting the co-operative aspect of member control.
  • 2010: Initial share offer brought in 160 members £164,625
  • 2012: SWCD supported with another share offering, reaching up to £240k total from 180 members. Both Phone Co-op and Midcounties Co-op invested showing the xxth principle of co-operatives.
  • 2019: The Trains Go-op had been planning on using were no-longer available, so SWCD supported Go-op to apply for a grant from Innovate UK to look into the possibility of running battery operated trains. It was concluded that this would be possible but very difficult and capital intensive to deliver.
  • 2023: Track Access Application submitted to the Office of Rail and Road for approval.

What we thought about working with Go-op Co-operative

To enter a completely new sector, and that being one of the most regulated sectors in the UK, is an immense challenge. But if we are serious about the benefits of the co-operative model, then it is the kind of challenge we have to take on.

Alex Lawrie ~ SWCD

What Go-op thought about working with us

All of Go-op’s directors are currently very busy but we will hopefully have a quote from one of them soon!

To find out more about Go-op Co-op:

South West Co-operative Development Limited
Registered as a Community Benefit Society: 31193R
Registered office address:
10 East Reach,
Office phone: 0300 456 2265
Email: development@southwest.coop