DAILY direct train services linking Barrow with Manchester Airport are not being used enough by passengers, a meeting has heard.

Northern Rail came under fire last year following a summer timetable collapse and runs 11 direct services every weekday between Barrow and the airport.

But a South Lakeland District Council sub-committee has heard that the services are not attracting sufficient numbers of passengers.

Cllr Doug Rathbone has acted as the go-between the council and train bosses.

He told councillors: “The problem is that people are not using the train regardless of the improved service and regardless of the actual trains.

“Dare I say they still no longer trust Northern to provide the service they were franchised to provide.”

Cllr Rathbone, the Liberal Democrat member for Kendal Town and Rural, said the “loss of confidence” in train services would take more to win back than the offer of temporary discounts and short-term cheap train tickets.

Northern introduction new Class 195 trains on the Furness and Lakes Line from July 1; part of a £500m investment by the company, councillors were told.

Cllr Rathbone said ‘promotion days’ would take place for the Furness and Lakes line around mid-August or the start of September to encourage passengers back.

“I want to ensure that just because we have got new trains, we do not let up and continue to hold their feet to the fire,” said Cllr Rathbone, a member of the South Lakeland District Council overview and scrutiny committee.

The meeting was heard that in terms of trains being on time, the Furness service so far had an 83 per cent success rate and the Lakes Line had notched up 96 per cent.

Cllr Janette Jenkinson, the Conservative councillor, for Ulverston West, said: “We’ve actually made a good impression on Northern and I hope the connection between Northern and SLDC continues because we told them what was wrong, and let’s face it, we’ve had awful, awful trains and awful service for a long, long time.

“Cllr Rathbone is quite right to say we have got to keep the pressure up on them. The more these lines are promoted the more it’s going to help the main aim of the council which is getting people on trains, getting people on buses and helping the council’s effort towards combatting climate change. We must keep talking and working with them.”

The meeting heard that Northern was investing £1 million over summer and into early autumn on promoting journeys.

It also planned heavily discounted tickets for adults and children in addition alongside an existing 15 per cent discount until September 29th