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Councillors call for rail compensation scheme to be extended

Councillor Douglas Rathbone

[C]ouncillors are calling for an extension to a compensation scheme offered by Northern Rail amidst the continuing delays and cancellation of train services in South Lakeland.

They say the compensation fund for season ticket holders has been poorly promoted and the full details need to be advertised more widely and at every railway station.

Members of South Lakeland District Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee say they continue to be concerned about disruption on both the Lakes Line and the Furness Line.

Vice Chairman of the committee, Councillor Douglas Rathbone, says that despite personal assurances given by Northern Rail’s Interim Regional Director at a meeting in July, local rail passengers continue to suffer.

Cllr Rathbone said: “In the weeks that have followed our meeting with Mr Craig Harrop there have been some developments that have continued to cause concern for both our councillors and our residents regarding the Furness Line and the Lakes Line.

“At the meeting Mr Harrop stated that the May 2018 timetable would not be reinstated prematurely and only when a robust timetable was achievable, that would provide a reliable service for customers to plan around, would full service resume.

“However, since the reinstatement of the timetable, cancellations and lack of information continue to affect both services.”

On Thursday 23 August seven train services were cancelled on the Lakes Line.

Cllr Rathbone has now written to Craig Harrop calling for assurances that a full rail service will be delivered as advertised.

“At our meeting Councillors left Craig Harrop in no doubt that the delays, cancellations and withdrawal of rail services in South Lakeland caused considerable inconvenience and disruption to residents and visitors and impacted on the economy and reputation of the area.

“Mr Harrop said he was truly sorry and that, going forward, he would protect the lines which had suffered the most.

“He made a number of confident assurances about new timetables, new trains and more services and said he was committed to improving and promoting the Lakes Line and the Furness Line.

“However, the continuing disruption is not acceptable for the people or businesses of South Lakeland.”

Councillors are requesting that Northern Rail’s compensation offer for season ticket holders, which is due to end on 19 September, is now extended.

“We are concerned that this compensation fund has not been advertised widely enough, and feel that an extension of this date along with details being made clearly visible at all stations would ensure that everyone using the service is given an opportunity to fully utilise this scheme,” added Cllr Rathbone.

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