A CAMPAIGN is set to be launched to save a direct train service from South Cumbria to Manchester.
Cumbria Better Connected will be launched tomorrow by Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock in a bid to protect the under-threat direct train service between Barrow and Manchester Airport.
Mr Woodcock, a shadow transport minister, will kick-start the campaign with a tour of railway stations in the region, collecting signatures from commuters and residents on his journey.
Mr Woodcock will be joined by representatives from local business, rail users and councillors and at Grange station, Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron will join the journey.
In the draft timetable for 2014, First TransPennine Express is proposing removing more than half of the through services which link Barrow, Ulverston, Grange and Arnside with Manchester and its airport, with no services from the city until the late afternoon and no trains to Manchester in the afternoon or early evening. The direct service is also threatened with complete removal from 2015 when the TransPennine franchise is re-let following electrification of parts of the network.
Mr Woodcock said: The through services to Manchester and the airport provide an essential link to the economic centre of the North West. The train service helps to secure jobs, investment and economic growth.
It is essential to the tourism industry and provides local people with access to employment, training and leisure opportunities. When I met with local businesses and organisations to discuss the threat to these trains, they were unanimous in opposing cuts to these services.
I welcome the electrification of parts of the TransPennine network, but there is no reason why South Cumbria should see a worse service because of it.
Im calling on FTPE to reconsider the cuts it is proposing in 2014, and Im calling on government ministers to guarantee the through service will be part of the new franchise agreement in 2015. I hope people from across South Cumbria will show their support by signing the petition.
First TransPennine Express has said the timetable is only a draft and has invited people to comment on the plan.
Mr Farron said: I look forward to joining John and campaigners tomorrow lunchtime and launching a cross-party campaign to protect a vital service for our community.
The Furness Line is as important as the Lakes Line and they both play a vital part in boosting tourism. I know many residents back the campaign and we will work together to protect the frequency of the service.
The group will be collecting signatures at Barrow train station tomorrow between 9.45am and 10.10am, at Ulverston station from 10.40am until 11.30am and at Grange station between noon and 12.30pm. The petition can also be signed online at www.johnwoodcock.org.