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Farron secures meeting with transport ministers to discuss Lakes Line electrification

January 17, 2013 3:22 PM

Tim Farron MP & Cllr Andy Shine at Oxenholme StationCumbrian MP, Tim Farron, has today used a Parliamentary question session to secure a meeting with Transport Minister Norman Baker, signalling a major step forward in his campaign to win government backing for plans to electrify the Lakes Line between Oxenholme and Windermere.

The future of the line has been under threat following plans to electrify routes around Manchester and create a "hub" ensuring an hourly service from the city to Preston, Carlisle and Scotland, announced in July. As things stand, the Lakes Line would be cut unless it too is electrified.

Tim used today's debate to make the point that Network Rail have described the process of electrifying the line as a "straightforward job", and called on the Minister to meet with him, rail operator First Group and local users of the line in order to make further progress.

The minister's response was that either he or fellow Transport Minister Simon Burns would be willing to attend such a meeting with Tim in order to discuss the issue.

Tim had previously used a meeting with managing director of operators First Group Nick Donovan to secure the firm's support for the proposals, a factor which the Department for Transport had indicated would be crucial in any decision.

Commenting, Tim said: "The electrification of the Lakes Line makes economic, financial and environmental sense. The plan will bring much needed construction jobs in the shorter term and in the longer term attract new businesses, boost tourism and create a better environment for job creation. Today ministers agreed to hold a meeting with me and the Lakes Line Users group offers us a real opportunity. I hope to get them, Network Rail and the train companies around the table and work to make this project happen. Each organisation has told me they are supportive and keen to make this happen. This meeting offers us a chance to do that.

"Electrification of the line would also help to ensure that the direct link to Manchester Airport is protected as it shows us a regional hub; a place to visit and do business. I will push the government on both these projects and do all I can to ensure the upgrade of the infrastructure of our public transport network in the South Lakes."