A NEW dawn of transport has been heralded for frustrated commuters around Cumbria.

Northern have announced plans for an extended service, which includes a long-awaited Sunday service along the west of the county, will come into force in a matter of months.

The news has been greatly received in Millom, where residents have been left without trains on a Sunday for over 40 years.

Councillor Felicity Wilson said: "It is absolutely wonderful news, it really is.

"We are in a neglected part of the country but this gives us the option to travel around and it is lovely.

"It is what we need and I think it is what we deserve. I'm absolutely thrilled."

Cllr Wilson hailed the freedom the new service would provide to people around the county.

She said: "I don't drive and I'm a train passenger, so I hate the idea that one day each week I can't travel.

"This is excellent for people going to hospital appointments or visiting their friends or family, especially in care homes.

"There are a lot of people in Millom and Haverigg who go day in, day out to see members of their family around Cumbria and it is sad for them that they can't do that on Sundays.

"Unless they have someone to help they can't do it, so this news will be a great relief and support to people."

The new service could benefit residents and visitors alike in moving around west and south Cumbria.

Cllr Wilson said: "From a tourism point of view it is great to give people the chance to come to the area.

"A lot of people choose to use the trains to this get to the airport too, and it will be a huge benefit to them.

"We have got a lot of people in the town who work on a Sunday too and this will really help them."

Copeland MP Trudy Harrison praised the announcement, which will see 22 rail services link Barrow and Carlisle every Sunday.

She said: "Having proudly spoke of this very welcome addition to our timetable last year, I became increasingly worried over the last few weeks as delays elsewhere saw challenges with sufficient rolling stock.

"We can now look forward to this much needed service, which will transform our visitor economy, enable students to return at weekends, and generally support both the needs of business and our community.

"With this welcome news, our World Heritage Site just became far more accessible. It is not just our landscape but also the farmed, cultural heritage which has been shaped by industry for generations."

Mrs Harrison has united with fellow Cumbrian MPs John Woodcock and Tim Farron as part of the Cumbria Better Connected group in fighting for improvements.

Mr Woodcock, Barrow and Furness MP, said: "This looks like a step forward but there have ben so many setbacks and delays that, bluntly, we will believe it when we see it.

"There have been many instances where big improvements have been announced but they haven't materialised.

"Passengers see the bread and butter of it all and do not want to be faced with another crisis when there's not enough drivers to run the services."

The potential benefit for tourism has also been hailed by Peter Frost-Pennington, owner of Muncaster Castle.

He said: "This is fabulous news and a welcome boost to the western Lake District and Cumbrian coast.

"At long last we can encourage visitors to visit by train for a weekend away and be able to get back to towns and cities around the UK on a Sunday.

"it is wonderful that travellers will now be able to catch a train to and from here on a Sunday."

A spokesman for Northern said: "From May 20, we will introduce an enhanced service between Carlisle and Barrow, with later evening trains and regular Sunday services.

"We will also operate four services a day, each way, between Barrow and Manchester Airport, as well as strengthening links between Cumbria and Manchester.

"The enhanced services form part of our May timetable change, which is paving the way for future improvements and getting the network ready for the arrival of our fully refurbished trains."

The changes will also see one Manchester Piccadilly to Windermere service each day, as well as two in the opposite direction.

The news has, however, prompted questions from others in Millom.

Mayor Angela Dixon said: "I hope it does happen because it would be good news, but I am very sceptical and I'll believe it when I see it.

"They can't get it right during the week so how will they manage on a Sunday?

"People have started using the buses to get around instead because they can't trust the trains, so I don't know how they'll get those people back."