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Friday, 21 November 2014

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Boss says poor rail service is stifling growth in South Cumbria

OWNERS of small businesses have branded trains on the Furness Line as “outdated and insufficient”.

The Furness branch of the Federation of Small Businesses has added its voice to the growing demand for a train service to match the area’s economic ambitions.

The group, which represents the interests of self-employed workers and owners of small firms, has said maintaining and improving rail links to Manchester and West Cumbria is “essential” for local growth.

The comments were submitted to the Department for Transport which had been gathering local opinion on the future of the Furness, Lakes and Cumbria Coast lines.

The response will inform a decision, due to be taken next year, on which companies will operate passenger trains in the North West for the next decade.

The branch’s concerns mirror those already put forward by local councils, rail campaigners and some of South Cumbria’s major employers.

Phil Collier, Furness branch chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “A regular, reliable rail link from Barrow to Manchester and beyond and linking the Furness Peninsula with the West Coast is essential if we want to see businesses locally grow.

“The FSB fully supports the efforts to address this crucially important issue.”

Yesterday, Stuart Klosinski, industrial development manager with Furness Enterprise, said small local businesses would benefit from the planned major expansions at BAE and GSK.

But he stressed the need for a change in the train timetable to allow workers from outside of Cumbria to commute into Furness to make the most of the development.

Mr Collier added: “With the huge levels of business investment coming in to this area over the next 20 years or so it is absolutely vital that we have an appropriate transport infrastructure in place.

“Our present rail links are both outdated and insufficient, limiting business opportunities to access new markets and thereby holding back economic recovery.”

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