Social enterprise ECT is joining forces with Britain's only independent community railway, on Dartmoor, which is funded by tourism and retail traffic.
ECT operates community transport services in Ealing, west London, alongside its main business of recycling for more than 1 million households.
ECT will help to develop the 15-mile rail service and contribute to regeneration and tourism around Dartmoor National Park. It also hopes to be able to replicate the community railway concept in other parts of Britain.
The Dartmoor railway, which runs from Exeter to Meldon and is supported by Devon County Council, has just opened a new station and a visitor centre.
ECT chief executive Stephen Sears said: "Together we have the railway expertise, business systems and experience of community engagement that will be needed to involve local people and visitors and encourage them to make greater use of the lines."