A TOP level report which concludes that rail electrification can be delivered at half the Government’s projected cost has revived hopes the Lakes Line will be electrified.

After attending the launch of the Rail Industry Association report in Westminster last week, MP Tim Farron said the Lakes Line plan, which was shelved in 2017 by the Government who cited funding issues, was now “firmly back on the table.”

“The Conservative Government’s decision to cancel the electrification of the Lakes Line allegedly due to rising costs was a huge blow to our area as well as a broken promise,” he said.

“So, the RIA’s findings that this could be done much cheaper is great news and puts electrification firmly back on the table.

“This means we can invest in making sure we have those reliable, quick, direct trains from Windermere to Manchester Airport, and all the places in between.”

Electrification of the Lakes Line has long been sought by a range of groups in the South Lakeland area, who were dismayed by the July 2017 Government announcement that the project was to be cancelled.

A National Audit Office investigation subsequently found a lack of available funding was the chief reason for the project’s cancellation.

But the RIA report,which claims electrification schemes can be delivered at half the cost that the Department for Transport had originally estimated, has altered the situation considerably.

Robert Talbot, chair of the Lakes Line Rail User Group, offered a guarded welcome to the news.

“It is heartening to learn that our MP has attended a meeting in Westminster where rail electrification has been discussed in light of up-to-date information, and at which there seemed to be some common sense ande some positive and encouraging news,” he said.

“The development of infrastructure on the Oxenholme to Windermere line, both electrification and increased capacity afforded by a passing loop for example, remain at the forefront of Lakes Line Rail User Group thinking.”

Mr Talbot explained that due to the maximum speed on the Lakes Line being 60 mph, there would be no need for intrusive pylons if the electrification was to take place as posts, which could be painted to blend in with the local scenery, would be sufficient.

He also referred to a newly published report compiled by the Campaign for Better Transport on behalf of Virgin Trains which found that in the last 10 years, one million passengers have travelled by train to the Lake District via Oxenholme and Penrith stations.

In the light of this, Mr Talbot said in his view, investment in the region’s rail network was long overdue.

He said it was “about time” the area benefited from some of the £5.7billion improvement budget announced for Network Rail for the five year period beginning on April 1.