TRAIN passengers are to be lured back to South Cumbria in a major charm offensive.

Company bosses have promised that problems following last year’s timetable meltdown have been addressed and a host of new initiatives are ready to be rolled out in 2019.

Northern’s new diesel trains will be introduced this summer on the Furness Line, between Barrow and Lancaster, and the Lakes Line, between Oxenholme and Windermere.

South Cumbria is the first place in the North West to get the new diesel trains, with driver and train testing under way, said officials.

Next month, the first of three marketing campaigns will be launched ahead of Easter and officials have promised 11 direct trains a day to Manchester Airport from Barrow and Windermere.

Northern bosses also plan to ramp up the pressure on Network Rail to complete engineering jobs outside of the public holidays to support tourism.

The pledges were made to councillors at a meeting of South Lakeland District Council’s overview and scrutiny committee after a catalogue of problems last year.

Chris Jackson, regional director for Northern, told the hearing that the company had “tightened the nuts and bolts” of its operation and was determined to make amends and restore public confidence.

Mr Jackson told the meeting: “People have heard about new trains for a long time and it may sound like a pipe-dream but they are here. We have 98 new trains on order – a mixture of diesel and electrics – and the Windermere and Barrow lines are going to be the first routes to be getting them. These trains will be drip-fed in during the middle of 2019.

“I really like them, they are fully accessible and easy to get on and off. They are great trains and a welcome addition with lots of luggage space. They are coming soon, and we want to show we are serious about introducing these new trains in Cumbria.”

Craig Harrop, interim regional director, told councillors three marketing campaigns would be launched, regionally and UK-wide, alongside a £285,000 push by Cumbria Tourism.

Mr Harrop said: “We’ll be offering reductions on our day-return cheap day tickets – for commuters and residents – as well as cheaper advanced purchased fairs to capture the leisure market.”

He said the marketing campaigns would “reinvigorate and reassure” customers that Furness and Lakes line were “very much open for business”.

He added: “We are offering better, more frequent services with connections through to the major hubs. The overhead luggage space is a lot lower than other intercity trains and you can actually fit airline-sized wheelie cases above your head, and what we have also made sure is that a full, family-sized piece of luggage can slide under every chair on the train.