The MP for Workington has written to the Rail Minister, Claire Perry to raise with her several issues regarding the Cumbrian Coast line between Carlisle and Barrow.
After a meeting with Perry in Parliament, Sue Hayman set out in detail three main issues facing the railway in West Cumbria including the need for a better service for Sellafield commuters, getting more freight transferred from road to rail (including through the rail terminal at the Port of Workington) and the need to protect the railway from future floods and storms with additional infrastructure investment. Hayman also invited Perry to visit Workington to see the issues at hand for herself.
"Northern Rail have made progress, however, it is not enough – passenger numbers over the past decade have soared, and it is clear that the potential of our railway line is not being achieved. Passengers using Workington station have increased by more than 50% in the last decade, and the situation is similar at stations right along the line" said Hayman.
She added: “While Sellafield employs over 10,000 people, the vast majority commute by car. There are only two services serving Sellafield in either direction during each rush-hour period, meaning that only around 500 people commute by rail to the site from either direction every day. Since the timetable change in May, we have seen a slight increase in capacity, but unfortunately no additional services, leaving lengthy gaps in the timetable at rush-hour.
“With the planned nuclear new-build at Moorside, and the resulting creation of up to 21,000 jobs, it is now more important than ever that the transport infrastructure in West Cumbria is fit for purpose. Construction materials could be brought in by rail, meaning that tens of thousands of lorries would not need to clog up the already congested A595.”
Hayman said that at Siddick and Nethertown, the line has been hit badly by adverse weather, with washouts and landslides causing disruption for weeks.
“After the 2009 floods, it was the stretch of railway between Workington and Maryport that provided the single remaining lifeline for thousands of people in the community for six months. Without this crucial lifeline, West Cumbria’s economy would simply grind to a halt.”