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People Power Wins as train company backs down on cancelling local peak time commuter train

John Freeman

Hot on the heels of Lancashire County Council bowing to public pressure and reversing its plans to cut bus subsidies come more good news for local commuters – the train company First Transpennine Express has now confirmed that they will be running an extra train from Oxenholme to Lancaster next week at 5.30pm, after a petition and email writing campaign from commuters (see news story).

The 5.06pm service from Windermere to Manchester airport was to terminate at Oxenholme from next Monday (10th February), leaving commuters travelling to Lancaster and stations further south with a two hour gap in the timetable.

Commuter Dawn Groundsell, who works for Friends of the Lake District in Oxenholme, Kendal, said: “We are really delighted First Transpennine has decided not to cancel the 5.30pm Monday-Thursday service from Kendal to Lancaster, and to reinstate the Friday 5.30pm service which it cancelled in December.

"Leaving a two hour hole in the timetable would've made commuting to work very difficult for many people, including myself, and some people told us they were thinking they would have to leave jobs that they would no longer be able to commute back from.

“We'd collected nearly 500 signatures in a week online and from passengers on the train - we are really pleased so many people have supported us and signed our petition. I'm very glad the train company has decided to listen to local train users and not prioritise through trains from London and Manchester to Scotland over local needs.

“We weren't consulted over the proposed changes and we were told the timetables were set and so I'm very surprised and happy that they have made this change since we started campaigning in January. We really hope that First Transpennine continues to keep this train running after May when the summer timetable starts.

"Thanks to everyone who signed the petition."

Chris Nutton, Programme Director, First TransPennine Express, said: “We are delighted that, from Monday 10th February, we will continue to operate a connecting evening peak time service from Windermere to Lancaster and Manchester Airport.

“We have, as we always do, previously undertaken consultation with various local stakeholders regarding the timetable change. Through these official consultations, no train specific objections were raised.

“We do however recognise the constructive feedback received from customers on some of the proposed timing alterations and it is with this in mind that we were able to reassess the timetable changes.

“Constructive customer feedback has been fundamental in the process and we want to extend our thanks to all who contacted us and offered their thoughts on the changes.

“Therefore, from Monday 10th February, we will be operating a service from Windermere that will depart at 1706; this will arrive into Oxenholme at 1725 and allow for forward connections to Lancaster and Manchester Airport on a 1730* departure.

“We want to take this opportunity to thank our customers for their patience, understanding and input and we hope to continue to offer a valued train service for the local communities we serve.”