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3/10/2012 - Cumbria transport chief calls for urgent answers on West Coast Main Line

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Cumbria County Council's Cabinet member responsible for transport is urging the Government to quickly confirm how rail services will be delivered on the West Coast Main Line, following the announcement that the competition to run trains on the line has been cancelled following the discovery of “significant technical flaws” in the way the franchise process and subsequent contract award to FirstGroup was conducted.
 
The Government has confirmed that the Department for Transport will no longer be awarding a franchise contract to run the West Coast service from 9 December, but has so far not confirmed what the future arrangements will be for the delivery of rail services on the line.

Cllr Tim Knowles, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet member responsible for environment and transport, said:

“We are the authority responsible for passenger transport in Cumbria and it is incredibly frustrating to see so much doubt and uncertainty around what is effectively the backbone of rail services in Cumbria.

“The county council has been working hard to promote low-carbon alternatives to car travel and rail is the linchpin of this. We need to plan and promote a whole network of rail services in the county which plug into the West Coast Main Line timetable, so we need to know how it will be run. I am seeking urgent clarity from Government on what their short, medium and long-term intentions are for rail services on this line.

“There are clearly issues arising from this large and complex procurement process that involves the balance of risk, reward and investment between the public and private sector.

“The county council’s Leader and I have pushed the case throughout the franchise process that, whoever runs the line, it is crucial that services in the county are maintained and the necessary investment is made in rail infrastructure here. We are concerned about any potential reduction to the number of stops made by trains in Cumbria along the West Coast Main Line and will continue to push hard to avoid this happening in this shifting landscape,” said Cllr Knowles.
 
For further information contact Gareth Cosslett on 01228 226337.

For general enquiries to Cumbria County Council's communications team contact media@cumbria.gov.uk or call 01228 226338/ 221008/ 226601.