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MPs raise concerns over Northern ‘commuter service’ timetable change

Mark Jenkinson MP, Trudy Harrison MP and John Stevenson MP have raised concern about the changes to the Northern Rail timetable on the Cumbrian Coastal line.

Changes to the timetable due to come into place on 14th September prohibit those who live in the Workington constituency and rely on the service for education or employment needs in Carlisle to meet a start time of 9am.

The current 7.42am service is the main ‘commuter service’ to Carlisle arriving at 8.32am. The alternatives such as the 6.48am service (arrival at 7.32am) and 8.34am service (arrives 9.24am) are not suitable for commuters required to be in education or employment at or around 9am.

Mark Jenkinson MP said: “I have written to Northern Rail on behalf of my constituents who have raised with me the issue over the intended suspension of the 7.42am service.

“Within the Workington Constituency the rail service stops at Aspatria, Maryport, Flimby and Workington. The service also travels through other Cumbrian constituencies.

“I am extremely concerned at this intended change. As such it provides a vital role to students living in my constituency and travelling to and from schools and colleges as well as my constituents who are employed in Carlisle and rely on public transport to get to work on time.”

Trudy Harrison MP said: “I fought hard to improve the Cumbria Coastal Line, securing the Sunday service, later trains and better reliability. This cancellation represents one step forward, two steps back. We need to have a railway that serves all of our passengers, whether they are travelling north or south. I call on Northern to resolve this as soon as possible.”

John Stevenson MP for Carlisle said: “By cancelling the 7.42 train to Carlisle, Northern Rail are making it very difficult to access education and employment opportunities in Carlisle for those who rely on public transport to travel to Carlisle from other areas of the county.

“We should be doing all we can to make opportunities within our county accessible. Public transport certainly assists with this and should be strengthened and improved, not reduced. This proposal will certainly have an impact on those who rely upon the service.”

Chris Jackson, Regional Director at Northern, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on many parts of society and this includes the railway.

“We have done all we can to continue to provide the best possible service for customers across the network with our new timetables, but we are still welcoming back members of staff who have been shielding and the knock-on effects of the virus will be felt for many months.

“As we have worked towards reintroducing services and re-instating our driving training programme, we have had to make some very tough decisions about which services we can, and cannot, reliably operate.

“One of these decisions is to remove the 07:35 Whitehaven to Carlisle service which will, in turn, provide the flexibility amongst train crew and trains themselves to protect the reliability of services across the rest of Cumbria and beyond.”

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