[N]ews that Cumbria Tourism’s calls for a national marketing campaign to restore confidence in the Lakes Line have won Government support are being welcomed across the county.
As the official Destination Management Organisation for Cumbria, we have been calling on the Transport Minister to take urgent action to resolve the ongoing issues with Northern train services.
During a conversation with Transport Minister Jo Johnson this week, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism Gill Haigh stressed the impact that the long-term disruption – and recent cancellation of all Northern services – is having on the county’s £2.9billion tourism industry. She also highlighted the critical need for the return of a long-term, reliable and quality service, backed by funding for a nationwide marketing campaign to help restore visitor confidence.
The discussion comes ahead of a Parliamentary Rail Summit at the Houses of Parliament early next month, including Mr Johnson and the Managing Director of Northern David Brown. Gill Haigh has been invited to attend, alongside Northern MPs and key businesses leaders.
As part of the lobbying process around performance levels on the Lakes Line and elsewhere in the county, Cumbria Tourism has also been involved with a number of national TV interviews in recent days, including BBC Breakfast and ITV News.
This activity builds on national lobbying work Cumbria Tourism has been undertaking over many months, working with partners such as Cumbria’s Local Enterprise Partnership and the county’s MPs and politicians. Sustainable transport options are vital for supporting our 47million annual visitors and the wider £2.9billion tourism industry.
Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “We appreciate Jo Johnson taking the time to make contact and discuss the ongoing issues and latest position regarding Northern and in particular, the issues on the Lakes Line. Tourism businesses have invested heavily to create world-class visitor experiences and the Lakes Line – alongside other public transport services to and within county – is critical in providing an effective and sustainable way to increase the reach of the Lake District and wider county.
“The issues with Northern’s management of the franchise have been deteriorating for months and have now led to this unacceptable position where the service has been cancelled and, worse still, the initial two-week closure now looks set to continue until the end of July – the worst possible time for the tourism sector.
She adds, “While we are pleased to see a return of a shuttle train service provided by West Coast Railways, it was made clear – and Mr Johnson was supportive – that full services must be returned as soon as possible. It is now imperative that we quickly get a fully timetabled and reliable, quality service and confirm the extent of this funding, so we can ensure an impactful campaign is ‘live and ready’ to launch alongside the resumption of the normal timetabled services next month.”