Transport for the North has urged train operator Northern to present options for restoring rail services on the Lakes Line as soon as possible, calling for resumption of some kind by week five of the interim timetable period “at the very latest”.
Northern announced on Monday that it would be suspending services between Oxenholme and Windermere for two weeks, as part of a mass of cancellations. The under-fire operator then said that it wished to extend that period for a further fortnight, amid protests from tourism businesses and local councillors.
At the very latest, said TfN, services should be restored by week five of the interim timetable.
John Cridland, chairman of TfN, said: “It’s disappointing that we are in this position, as communities and businesses rely on the Lakes Line service. Northern must now do everything they can to get a train service running again on that line as soon as possible. This cannot go on for a prolonged period.
“Northern has said that passengers would be likely to experience further cancellations and unscheduled delays across the Lakes and wider network if services are reinstated. As the voice of the North’s communities, we cannot responsibly insist that they take that operational decision. The passengers come first.
“Let us be clear, our support for Cumbria is unwavering. We are urging Northern to look at all ways in which a rail service on the line can be restored by the beginning of July at the latest.”
Cridland was speaking on behalf of the TfN partnership board, which said it has “recognised, reluctantly, that insisting rail services are restored in week 3 of the interim timetable would be likely to see a return to an unreliable service in Cumbria and further afield”.