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South Lakes MP Tim Farron has today called for First TransPennine to deliver on it's promise of a "customer focused timetable" by agreeing to save the Lakes Line through trains to Manchester Airport. Tim has publicly challenged First Group to put the idea of cutting through trains out to consultation with local residents.
Today it has been announced that majority of direct trains from South Cumbria to Manchester Airport using the Furness Line will be retained. and the MP is calling for the same certainty for the Lakes line.
Nick Donovan the managing director of First TransPennine Express, is set to announce that five out of the six direct trains from Barrow will be preserved. The business has not made the same commitment about the trains from Windermere to Manchester Airport.
The MP will be meeting with transport ministers soon to discuss the issue. He will also be meeting with the management of First Group to discuss this and yesterday’s announcement that they have been awarded the West Coast Main Line franchise.
In advance of his meeting with the government, he has written to the Transport Secretary, Justine Greening MP. In his letter he said: 'Many of my constituents are very concerned at the prospect of losing their 'through' trains from Windermere and Barrow towards Manchester. I am also worried about the effect that a reduction of direct services from Manchester Airport to Windermere may have on the South Lakes' tourism industry. Passenger surveys conducted by local rail user groups have repeatedly found that passengers appreciate the convenience of being able to travel directly from the airport to their holiday destination.'
'Please will you press First Transpennine Express to revise its currently proposed timetable for 2014? Please will you also commit to retaining at least a similar number of through services as present in the franchise specification for the next round of franchise bidding?'
Mr. Farron said: “After the West Coast Main Line announcement yesterday, I have been inundated with emails from people who are very disappointed that FirstGroup have been awarded the contract. The group has an incredibly poor reputation with local people. I think as a show of good faith to local residents they should agree to look again at this proposal. I think our through trains link is vital for business and tourism in the South Lakes. That's why today I am publicly challenging FirstGroup to put their idea of scrapping some of the through train services out to public consultation."