RAIL heads in the South Lakes are calling on transport bosses nationally to include the area’s train connections in new plans to electrify a number of Cumbrian lines.

Network Rail have advanced environmentally-friendly plans to overhaul Cumbria’s rail infrastructure by converting a number of train links within the county - with the exception of the Lakes line - to an electric system.

Its proposals would see every line in Cumbria electrified – apart from the Lakes Line which would host battery-powered trains instead.

The plans form part of a broader national drive to decarbonise Britain’s rail system by ‘going electric’.

Robert Talbot, from the Lakes Line Rail User Group, said omitting the Lakes line from the plans could be a 'costly' oversight and that inclusion would be a 'win-win' for the county.

However, he recognised the value of the Furness plans, arguing: "there is a great need for rail investment in Cumbria.

"Our rail infrastructure has been long neglected and the investment is long overdue."

Last week, Robert Parker, of the Furness Line Action Group, said he ‘would be very surprised if anything along those lines happens within the next decade’.

Mr Parker also said he believes that ‘Furness would be the last of all the lines in the county to be switched to electric’ and said that ‘if they have any sense they’d get the Lakes line done first’.

South Lakes MP and Chair of the Cumbria Better Connected rail group, Tim Farron, has welcomed plans drawn up by Network Rail to electrify the Furness Line as part of their environmental push to remove all diesel trains off the rail network by 2040.

Mr Farron has written to Network Rail urging them to extend electrification to the Lakes Line and to amend the plans to include a passing loop at Burneside which could reduce car emissions by doubling rail capacity on the line.

Commenting this week, he said: “It’s really welcome and exciting news that Network Rail have drawn up this proposal to electrify lines across the country including locally on the Furness Line.

“This is a key piece of investment that I along with many other local rail campaigners have been calling for, for a very long time.

“However, it is disappointing – and simply doesn’t make sense - that the plans for electrification do not extend to the Lakes Line which of course serves Britain’s biggest visitor destination outside of London.

“I have written to Network Rail to strongly encourage them to readdress this so we can maximize the benefits to both our local economy and our environment.”