Concern over rail shake-up for Lakes Line

The Lakes Line

The Lakes Line

First published in News The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A RAIL user group has voiced its concerns about a planned shake-up of rail services and its impact on the Windermere-Oxenholme line.

The Lakes Line Rail User Group (LLRUG) has formally submitted its views to a major consultation by the Department for Transport (DfT).

The consultation on the future of the TransPennine and Northern Rail services franchises has now closed.

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They are being put out to tender to new companies in December with the winners running services from February 16.

Locally, the Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) has opposed changes suggested in the consultation, warning that the shake-up will favour urban areas over the rural north.

Two franchises are being contended - TransPennine, which includes the Lakes, Furness and West Coast lines, and Northern which operates services along the Settle-Carlisle railway.

The RMT has warned that the new regime could have serious implications for passengers. The DfT is proposing fare increases and scrapping of direct trains from Windermere/Barrow to Manchester Airport.

The union also warns of possible ticket office closures or reductions in opening hours at manned stations as it seeks to reduce the subsidy.

The LLRUG has echoed some of the union’s concerns in its summer bulletin to members.

It described proposals in the DfT consultation document as ‘unwelcome news’.

“Understandably there are repeated references to the need to reduce costs - no franchisee can expect an easy ride from the public purse at a time of government cuts.

“However, the idea of doing more for less brings no comfort to those waiting for the replacement of the aged Pacer trains or other elderly rolling stock.”

It adds: “No Lakes Line trains would run to or from Manchester and the airport, though some could run between Windermere and Preston.”

It has proposed a Lakes Line minimum level of service of seven trains a day from 7am until 7pm between Windermere and Manchester - alternating with the Furness Line, with shuttles for the rest of the day.

Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock has also responded to the DfT.

He said: “I have made the case in the strongest terms for significant improvements to the services on the Furness and Cumbria coast lines, in particular calling for the protection and enhancement of the direct service from Barrow to Manchester Airport and improving services in the evenings and at weekends.”

The companies shortlisted to run services were announced by the Government this week.

Northern: Abellio Northern Ltd; Arriva Rail North Limited; Govia Northern Limited. Trans-Pennine: First Trans Pennine Express Limited; Keolis Go-Ahead Limited; Stagecoach Trans-Pennine Express Trains Limited.

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