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Wednesday, 01 October 2014

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Businesses backing calls to improve Cumbria rail services

BUSINESSES in Cumbria have joined growing calls for vastly improved train services in the county to cope with the economic boom expected in Furness in the coming years.

Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership and Cumbria County Council have submitted a joint response to the government consultation to push for major improvements to rail travel from 2016.

A decision will be made next year over which train operators will run the Northern Rail and TransPennine Express franchises from 2016 to the mid 2020s.

In what has been described as “a rallying cry for investment”, the LEP and the council have presented the Department for Transport with a list of priorities to improve the county’s rail services.

These include:

lEnsuring greater frequency and capacity of passenger services on the Cumbrian Coast Line, including a Sunday service and expanded evening services, so the route is a viable commuter option for major West Cumbrian employers like Sellafield;

lInvesting in electrification, including the Lakes and Furness Lines. The Lakes Line should have seven-day-a-week services and a longer timetable day;

lMaintaining and increasing the number of direct services to Manchester Airport from Barrow and Windermere;

lInvesting in high-quality rolling stock to support the growth in tourism and commuting by train;

lInvesting in station facilities and access;

lMaking sure the franchise arrangements remain flexible to accommodate growth.

Councillor Keith Little, Cumbria County Council’s cabinet member responsible for transport, said: “We need the right services, the right infrastructure and the right commitment from rail operators to make train travel in Cumbria a really viable day-to-day option for the public.

“To deliver this, we can’t have a system where we just revisit our ‘needs’ every 10 years, it needs to be more flexible and more forward-thinking. Our joint response with the Cumbria LEP on this issue is an important part of the broader discussion we want to have with government about the infrastructure the county needs.”

Stephen Broughton, Cumbria LEP board member and owner of Mountain Goat travel company, said: “This is the time for more investment, not less, in our rail network.

“Bearing in mind the major amount of investment due to take place around the perimeter of Cumbria with all the travel that will create, the Lake District is now seen as the major focus of travel plans for international visitors to the UK after London.

“Tourism is a vital part of the economic growth in the county and there is a clear need to improve connectivity by rail to Cumbria from regional cities and airports as well as the link to the South.”

Have your say

When will people realise Furness is a dead end

Posted by John Solomon Fisher on 25 August 2014 at 08:53

I agree with Maureen far far to late.So many years of treating the people of Cumbria who use the coastal service like second class citizens.More could have been made with an advertising campaign extolling the views between Lancaster and Carlisle.Like other lines in the UK and around the world.A chance well missed.Apathy Rules Uk.

Posted by Barrow Lad on 23 August 2014 at 13:10

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