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Sunday, 20 April 2014

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Latest train timetable ‘threatens to hit economy’ - Barrow MP

A CUT in the number of direct train services between Barrow and Manchester Airport has come into effect – and further reductions are due next year.

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CHANGES The number of through services from Barrow to Manchester Airport has decreased from six to five

Under the revised timetables approved by government, the number of through services from Barrow to Manchester Airport has decreased from six to five.

But in the other direction, from the airport to Barrow, the number of direct services has now dropped from nine to seven. And it will decrease to five in May 2014.

Furness MP John Woodcock has been opposing the reductions and is part of the Cumbria Better Connected campaign, which he now plans to step up. He is encouraging locals to add their voice to the campaign with the aim of getting the changes reversed and securing the future of the service.

Mr Woodcock said: “There is huge demand for through services to Manchester and the airport. This revised timetable not only inconveniences people, it threatens to damage the Furness economy.

“We now need to focus on getting these changes reversed in the longer term and securing the future of the direct service, which is currently uncertain because of changes elsewhere. As many people as possible need to make their voice heard in our Cumbria Better Connected campaign in the weeks and months ahead.”

The changes are coming into effect following the electrification of other parts of the rail network between Scotland and Manchester. Passengers travelling between Manchester Airport and Barrow will have to make their connections at Lancaster and Preston.

Harry Knowles, executive director of Furness Enterprise, told the Furness Enterprise open meeting at the Forum last week the reduction in direct services was one of the main challenges facing the peninsula. He said the decrease was coming at a time of high optimism for the business community which is to benefit from the new GlaxoSmithKline plant in Ulverston and, under Labour and Conservative pledges, the commissioning of Trident at Barrow shipyard.

Mr Knowles said: “It does seem strange that we have a reduction in the service when we have increased investment in the area.”

Electric trains have started to operate over the railway between Newton-le-Willows and the Castlefield junction outside Manchester Piccadilly, marking the commissioning of the first phase of the £400m North West electrification project on time and under budget.

Rail minister Stephen Hammond said: “This is the latest step in delivering an ambitious plan to electrify the national railway infrastructure across the North. I am pleased soon passengers on the Manchester to Glasgow and Edinburgh line will enjoy the benefits electric trains can deliver including faster journey times and more reliable services.”

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