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How to improve Cumbria’s transport links

Rob Johnston

[C]umbria Chamber of Commerce is calling for major investment in the county’s road and rail network to boost productivity.

It proposes upgrades for the A595 and the coastal railway from Carlisle to Lancaster via Barrow, and priority road schemes such the Whitehaven Relief Road, Kendal Northern Access Route, Carlisle Southern Relief Road and Ulverston bypass.

The business organisation has submitted an 18-page document commenting on Transport for the North’s draft Strategic Plan, a blueprint for improving transport links over the next 30 years.

Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “Before we drew up our response, we invited businesses to complete a questionnaire, and 141 did so.

“They told us about congestion blackspots, poorly-maintained roads, inadequate parking, lack of public transport and trains that were late if they turned up at all.

“They also told us about the priority transport schemes that could make life for Cumbrian businesses so much better. This valuable feedback formed the basis of our submission.”

He added: “Transport for the North’s Strategic Plan isn’t just another report that will gather dust on a shelf in Whitehall.

“It’s vital that the final version reflects the needs of Cumbrian businesses, and we hope our submission ensures that it will.

“To quote the old adage, ‘time is money’. Businesses are inevitably less productive if their staff or goods are stranded in traffic jams. Poor transport infrastructure stifles growth.”

The Chamber is also asking Transport for the North to give serious consideration to Northern Tidal Power Gateways’ plan for road crossings of Morecambe Bay and the Duddon Estuary and to look at proposals to re-open the railway to Keswick.

It says measures are needed to alleviate congestion on the A591 through the Lake District – these could include a park and ride scheme for Windermere and Bowness.

And it has repeated its call that HS2 trains from London should stop at Oxenholme, Penrith and Carlisle. The draft timetable has trains running non-stop between Preston and Glasgow or Edinburgh, forcing Cumbrian passengers to change at Preston.

The consultation on Transport for the North’s draft Strategic Plan closed on Tuesday.

You can read the Chamber’s response in full at: http://www.cumbriachamberofcommerce.co.uk/your-blueprint-to-improve-cumbrias-transport-links/

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