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Saturday, 26 July 2014

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Train link given green flag by business

Businesses have hailed plans for a direct rail link from West Cumbria to London as a positive step for the region.

Three Pendalino trains a day could be operating to the capital from 2016, train firm Alliance Rail Holdings revealed last week.

Alliance Rail, part of the Arriva group, said that funding was in place.

It is waiting for approval from the Office of Rail Regulation, which will decide later this year.

Businesses have said that improving West Cumbria’s infrastructure is vital for companies to compete.

Steven Szostak, chief executive of Britain’s Energy Coast, said: “The plans to improve rail links are of major importance to West Cumbria to both businesses and the wider community.

“The transport network is a vital piece of the jigsaw in ensuring that West Cumbria is an attractive place to do business, helping existing companies to grow whilst attracting new businesses to the area.

“It is therefore no surprise that the development of a supportive physical infrastructure is a key part of the West Cumbria Economic Blueprint and the plans for the rail network have a real part to play in complementing other Britain’s Energy Coast projects such as the development of the Port of Workington.

“The blueprint is all about investing to ensure West Cumbria is competitive locally and globally, and projects such as the rail improvements all help in realising this goal.”

The high-speed service would run from Carlisle to Euston via Maryport and Workington stations.

The new west coast service would start at Carlisle, calling at Wigton, Maryport, Workington, Whitehaven, Millom, Barrow, Ulverston and Lancaster, before joining the West Coast Main Line from Preston to London.

Tony O’Pray, managing director of TIS Cumbria, Workington, said: “I can only say it’s a good thing. West Cumbria is isolated but it should open up.”

Chris Bennett, senior operations manager at Tata Steel, Workington, said: “It’s a great investment in the area. Investing in the infrastructure is a good positive step for West Cumbria.”

Phil Jardine, business development director for Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster, said: “It will provide a massive economic boost to West Cumbria, leading to job creation, improved access to tourist hot spots and better connectivity for moving products.”

Alliance Rail would use Pendalinos which are used by Virgin on the West Coast Main Line.

It said the West Cumbria track would be upgraded and it was working closely with Network Rail.

Have your say

This all sounds too good to be true, and while I hope it is true, I'm wondering how long will it take to upgrade the entire Cumbrian coastal route to be able to run electric, tilting, Class 390 Pendolinos? What will be the cost and where is the funding coming from in these times of austerity? Surely many of the road bridges would need rebuilding to accommodate electrification? The project is fantastic news indeed, but I'll believe it when I see it happening.

Posted by Dave on 20 July 2013 at 00:38

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