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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

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High speed rail link plan is unveiled

A NEW high-speed coastal rail service to London with stops at Sellafield, Millom, Barrow and Ulverston could be in operation by May 2015.

The Office of Rail Regulations is expected to make a decision next month on the plans by Alliance Rail Holdings.

Up to three services a day would travel from Carlisle to London, but limited stops would mean Dalton and Grange missing out.

The plans were outlined by Alliance head of development Chris Hanks at the spring conference of the Cumbrian Railways Association in Carnforth on Saturday.

He said: “At the moment we are showing stops at Wigton, Maryport, Workington, Whitehaven, Sellafield, Millom – which wasn’t available in the original plan – Barrow and Ulverston.”

If approval is given, the first trains would run by May 2015.

He said: “We believe there is a case for running two or three trains a day round the Cumbrian coast.”

The service would be seven days a week but on Sunday the service to London would be one train starting at Barrow as there have been no regular services north to Millom since the 1970s.

He said: “If we are successful, we might try to get the line reopened on a Sunday.” The company had been looking at a fleet of five or six carriage trains from China which could tilt on bends and run at up to 100mph on diesel power and have the capability for up to 140mph on electrified lines.

The coastal route was chosen to boost economic development and communications through Cumbria.

He said: “We are trying to service centres of population which have poor links.”

The Alliance application to run trains for 15 years has been made under what is termed ‘open access’ where firms can run services through an area where franchise operators such as Northern Rail and First TransPennine already run scheduled services.

All the 'open access’ schemes requested by rail companies in 2010 were rejected in March last year but Mr Hanks remains optimistic of success this time.

He said: “We were given some encouragement to have another go.”

Barrow to London could take as little as three hours and 40 minutes but the nature of the rural line through West Cumbria would limit speeds.

He said: “It is not going to be high-speed around the coast and we are not going to be stopping at all the stations.”

He said Sellafield had been included as a stop due to future employment prospects at the West Cumbrian nuclear site.

Have your say

Good news, but it seems silly to miss out Grange and also Arnside and Ravenglass, particularly as the various authorities are trying to get tourists to visit the Lake District by train.

Posted by Michael on 21 March 2012 at 12:49

would be brilliant if we get this. would be even better if we get a sunday service about time

Posted by ryan on 20 March 2012 at 16:02

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