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MP's launch 'Better Connected Cumbria' campaign

June 25, 2012 12:14 PM

From left to right, Ian Stephens (Cumbria Tourism, Chief Executive), Cllr Peter Thornton (Leader, SLDC), John Woodcock MP, Tim Farron MP, Cllr Liz Lewis (Mayor of Grange) & at the front Cllr Frank Cassidy (Barrow councillor) South Lakes MP Tim Farron has joined with Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock to launch 'Cumbria Better Connected', at Grange-over-Sands station last Friday. The campaign has been set up to protect the direct train from Furness and from the Lakes Line to Manchester.

Draft timetables for 2014 show the number of through trains is to be drastically reduced - with passengers having to change at Preston orLancaster. The draft published by Network Rail and First TransPennine (FTPE) includes only one direct train from Windermere toManchestereach day, with two other trains running to and fromPreston.

And most daytime trains from Barrow will terminate or start atPreston, meaning passengers will have to switch trains to complete journeys. The timetable, currently under consultation, aims to allow for electrification of routes aroundManchester.

Last year, the Lakes line was named in the top ten branch lines in the country, posting an 81,218 increase in passengers over four years. Currently, two trains run fromManchesterAirportto Windermere, Monday to Thursday, and four services operate from Windermere toManchesterAirport.

Tim and John were joined by the Mayor of Grange Cllr Liz Lewis and the Leader of South Lakeland District Council Cllr Peter Thornton.

Tim will be holding campaign sessions along the Lakes Line soon to garner more signatures for the campaign. Tim last week wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport, Justine Greening MP and in his letter he said: 'Many of my constituents are very concerned at the prospect of losing their 'through' trains from Windermere and Barrow towards Manchester. I am also worried about the effect that a reduction of direct services from Manchester Airport to Windermere may have on the South Lakes' tourism industry. Passenger surveys conducted by local rail user groups have repeatedly found that passengers appreciate the convenience of being able to travel directly from the airport to their holiday destination.'

Tim has also tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) in parliament today supporting the campaign. The text of the motion says: "That this House notes with concern the proposed reduction in direct train services between Barrow and Manchester Airport and Windermere and Manchester Airport as part of the draft 2014 timetable published by First Transpennine and Network Rail; believes that these connections provide a vital service for local residents and are essential to the tourist industry in the Lake District; notes that the Lakes Line has been named in the top ten branch lines in the country, posting an 81,218 increase in passengers over four years and that passenger surveys have consistently shown that tourists value the opportunity to travel directly between the airport and their holiday destination; and calls on the Government to press First Transpennine to revise its current proposed timetable for 2014 and to adapt the franchise specification for the next round of bidding for the West Coast Main Line to ensure a similar level of direct train services are maintained."

Tim said: "The through services to Manchester and the airport provide an essential link to the economic centre for the South Lakes and Furness. These trains provide a boost for our tourist economy and are vital for local businesses. I will work with John, local residents and the Lakes Line Users Group to do all we can to protect the service we have. I know many residents back the campaign and we will work together to protect the frequency of the service."