Future of Our Rail Services
Current plans will see the main train route from Manchester to Scotland electrified from 2016 and investment in ten new Class 350 trains. The Lakes and Furness lines will not be electrified at this point and the existing C185 diesel trains presently used will no longer be compatible.
Once the current electrification programme in the North West is completed between 2016 and 2018, it is widely speculated that the Windermere and Barrow lines will be relegated to "branch line" status with all passengers having to change trains at Oxenholme and Lancaster respectively.
The situation at present means that the Lakes and Furness Lines are likely to have a significantly reduced services to Manchester from 2016. The government have said that there are opportunities for further electrification schemes to be considered for funding, but this will be post 2019.
However, both Class 350 and Class 185 are made by Siemens and use similar control systems. Professional opinion suggests that multiple operation should be possible with some modification. This would enable much greater operational flexibility, as well as permitting continuation of through services between Manchester and South Cumbria.
This measure needs very early action and urgent inclusion in the specification for the new Class 350 build. It is also essential for the Lakes and Furness Line services to be within the same franchise as the Manchester to Scotland services.
You can submit letters of support which will used to lobby decision makers regarding current level of train services. Please email them to Tim Owen, the chairman for the Lakes Line Community Rail Partnership at [email protected] and for the Furness Line please send to Peter Robinson, the chairman of the Furness Line Community Rail Partnership at [email protected] . An example of a response to the wider programme can be viewed here.