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Northern rail report is disappointing for Furness Line

March 5, 2015 5:18 PM

Tim Farron MP & Cllr Andy Shine at Oxenholme StationToday Northern Electrification Task Force released their report on the future of rail in our region. Local MP Tim Farron has described the Northern Sparks report as 'a disappointment' for the campaign to electrify the Furness Line.

The Furness Line has been classified as a category C scheme, but yet the project is believed to have very good economic benefits. The report says: "We believe that ALL these routes need electrifying, starting with those in the first tier, based primarily on the scale of economic impact they will bring. This provides the core foundation for the remaining tiers." The Cumbrian coastal route was also denoted as a category C scheme.

The routes detailed in Tier One or A should now be taken forward through the production of more detailed business cases with a view to including them in the work programme for the next rail industry 'Control Period' (2019 to 2024). Being tier three seems to suggest that the Furness Line project has been pushed into the medium term. Tim has also called for the Furness Line to be electrified to allow a Barrow to London service.

The task force's recommendations will now be considered by the government as part of the development of a comprehensive transport strategy for the north of England. An interim report on the north of England transport strategy is due shortly.

Tim said: "The news today from the report is mixed. I welcome the fact that the group looking at the electrification of northern railway lines has agreed that the Furness Line needs to be electrified, but more than that they have also agreed that it has a good underlying economic case. This is something I have repeatedly pressed Ministers and rail officials on.

"But only making the line tier three will mean that this project is pencilled in by rail officials for the medium term. I will keep pressing and pushing to bring the project forward, like we did with our successful campaign to electrify the Lakes Line. I will not give up fighting for this vital investment in our area."

The Northern Electrification Task Force's report on future electrification of rail links in the region can be found here: http://www.railnorth.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/EFT_Final_Report_FINAL_web.pdf