IS IT Christmas already? It must be as the old chestnut of electrifying the Windermere branch railway is being trotted out yet again (Gazette, April 11, 'New hopes for electrification').

Electrification is not needed to reintroduce through trains to Manchester. We had them some years ago run by Trans Pennine using some of the newest diesel trains in the land. Then we lost them, despite protests, when the interfering bureaucrats at the Department for Transport who micro manage our railways decided to transfer the line to another franchise because it is, as they describe it, “a shuttle to connect with London trains”.

We will get them back. The winning bidder, Northern, included in its bid a commitment to introduce “Northern Connect” services which include through Windermere Manchester trains as soon as they get the fleet of brand new diesel trains currently being delivered. It is reckless to suggest using public money to provide something already committed to by the operator at its own expense.

Rather than bang on about this, Cumbria politicians and business people should be united in fighting the plans for HS2, which will wreck our main line service.

As the Lakes Line User group rightly says, passenger numbers at Oxenholme, Penrith and Carlisle have increased hugely since Virgin introduced the Pendolino fleet. HS2 will destroy all that work as there are no firm plans for its trains to stop in the county, meaning we will need to change at Preston, and, despite its claims, realistically journey times will increase.

To add insult to injury, the DfT has kicked the existing west coast operators, the very ones responsible for the impressive passenger growth, off the new franchise bidding which includes HS2.

As they were short listed and the DfT has sat on bids for many months, it should have been let last October. This sudden decision is deeply worrying.

Searching questions must be asked and local politicians and business leaders must fight to ensure the retention of our existing service, seek improvements to it and lobby for HS2 to be modified or scrapped entirely.

Roger Davies