Concerns voiced over rail access to Cumbria

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Improvements sought: Windermere station
Improvements sought: Windermere station
4 August 2017 9:22AM

Clarity is being sought by Cumbria's business leaders over the future of the Lakes line, which links Oxenholme with Windermere.

Following last month's announcement by the Department for Transport that plans to electrify the route have been shelved, in favour of using hybrid trains, the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership wants more specific information about next year's new trains and services.

With the Lake District recently being awarded World Heritage Site status, the LEP has written to transport secretary Chris Grayling asking him to consider further investment to services and, in particular, improvements to Windermere station.

The chairman of Cumbria LEP, George Beveridge, said: "We were clearly disappointed to be informed that the government had decided to shelve its electrification plans for the line.

"While we welcome the potential for additional direct rail services between Windermere and Manchester Airport, we need to know the details now about how and when these will be delivered, both in terms of train technology and whether for example there are plans for more morning and evening services."

Mr Beveridge added: "The partnership has also been looking at the feasibility for line improvements, station upgrades and additional services, all of which would benefit the local tourism economy and visitor experiences. Electrification of the line was a key part of this infrastructure planning work.

"The Lake District National Park Authority, as members of the LEP board, are supportive of the electrification of the Lakes line.

"They have confirmed that electrification is wholly consistent with the management plan for the national park and World Heritage Site and would make a significant and positive contribution to supporting the regional economy and enabling low carbon, sustainable transport.

"The electrification upgrades which were promised for this line would have made a huge difference to achieving these goals, so we are seeking a commitment from government to look into the matter again, together with the partnership, in much more detail.

"We have some exciting thoughts for the Windermere line as a potential 'World Heritage Site gateway'. We want to leave no stone unturned in looking at other ways of improving it for the visitor economy."

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