FEARS train passengers will permanently abandon South Cumbria’s railway network have been aired in Parliament.

South Lakes MP Tim Farron tabled a private members bill aimed to make it easier to strip failing rail companies of their franchises.

The Bill comes less than a month after the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) warned “no-one took charge” during the summer timetable chaos which left users of the Furness and Lakes Lines stranded.

The ORR blamed the months of bus replacement services between Oxenholme and Windermere and the reduced services between Barrow and Lancaster on a lack of “responsibility and accountability”.

Yesterday, Mr Farron backed by The Mail’s campaign ‘Get our rail way back on track’ piled more pressure on the Government urging them to put and end to the “disgraceful rail service” before commuters find permanent alternatives to rail travel.

He said: “I tabled the Private Members bill to strip Northern of their franchise because this cannot go on.

“The Secretary of State Chris Grayling has the power to stop this madness and has shown no leadership. Now is the time he must take a stand because people are leaving the rail services and making alternative arrangements to school and work.

“If services don’t improve, people will vote with their feet, and the fear is services like the Furness and Lakes Lines will be put at risk. This would be catastrophic for the area.

“Mr Grayling needs to grow a back bone and prove to the people of Barrow and the South Lakes that they matter, because at the moment it looks like to Northern Powerhouse reaches as far as Junction 32 on the M6.”

Timetable changes were blamed for the problems in the summer which saw cancelled services, bus replacements and chaotic scenes at stations across the county.

Schoolchildren travelling between Barrow and Ulverston were forced to add more than an hour onto their days, while many tourists and commuters had to find alternative means of travel.

West Coast Railways from Carnforth stepped into the breach after Northern cancelled all trains on the Lakes Line in a bid to make other services “more reliable”.

Vanessa Sims, The Mail’s editor, said: “The Mail wholeheartedly backed the campaign to strip Northern of its franchise after witnessing the trail of devastation caused by the shambolic timetable change.

“Readers told us of their frustration and anger on a daily basis during the summer.

“South Cumbria deserves a service it can rely on and we will not stop fighting until we get it!”

Mail reporter Jonathan Rees joined Mr Farron and Robert Talbot, from the Lakeside User group in London to present a petition to No 10 Downing Street.

Mr Talbot said: “Where Northern Rail have failed most is with the locals.

“They are fed up of trains being cancelled or delayed, and they have had enough of it.

“There is sufficient evidence that people have found alternative ways for transport, many buying cars. Where Cumbria is geographically, the rail service is vital. I hope these new trains they have unveiled will be sufficient and the service reliable.”