Cumbria MP Tim Farron calls for Lakes Line expansion to be ‘fast tracked’

AN MP has accused the Government of ‘dragging its feet’ over plans to create a passing loop on a busy train line in the Lakes.

Currently, Cumbria County Council is developing a feasibility study into building a passing loop on the Lakes Line near Burneside station so that two trains could serve the line every hour.

But Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron said the plan needs the financial backing from the Government and called for the scheme to be ‘fast tracked’.

In December the Department for Transport did not give its support to the council’s ‘restoring your railway’ application, which would see it contribute £50,000 to the cost of a business case and feasibility study into establishing a passing loop.

Read more: Step forward for expansion of busy railway line

On the floor of the House of Commons this week, Mr Farron ‘secured’ a meeting with a minister from the Treasury over the plans to double the capacity on the Lakes Line from Oxenholme to Windermere.

Speaking during Treasury Questions in Parliament, Mr Farron said: “After London, the Lake District is the most popular visitor destination in the United Kingdom, with 19 million visitors a year.

“Its only direct rail link is a single track from the mainline at Oxenholme to Windermere – the Lakes Line.

“Now there is a proposal on the table to effectively dual that line via a passing loop at Burneside.

“Would she agree to meet with me and folks from the local authority to make sure that we – no pun intended – fast-track the dualling of the Lakes Line?”

In response, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Helen Whately said: “The growth of tourism is really, really important as part of the wider economic growth of the country.

“I’d be delighted to meet with him and talk about his proposal.”

Speaking afterwards, Mr Farron said: “Doubling capacity on the Lakes Line is an absolute no-brainer.

“It would bring massive benefits to the tourism economy, to people commuting to work and school and – by making it more attractive to use public transport rather than their car – to the environment too.”

The Westmorland Gazette | News