“Patience and tolerance” needed, warns rail line campaigner

Date: Friday 10th September 2010

RAILWAY campaigner Cedric Martindale has warned that supporters will need “patience and tolerance” if they are to see a return of the Keswick to Penrith rail line.

In his latest update Mr. Martindale points to Keswick’s highly successful Theatre by the Lake as an example of an “impossible dream” coming true.

At the time, many people said the theatre, which has now been open for 11 years, would never be built.

Now he hopes the same spark could ignite the proposals to bring back the Keswick to Penrith rail link.

Mr. Martindale said the theatre was “brought to life by the effort and determination of a large group of supporters in Keswick and much further afield, all of whom could see the potential as a local facility, tourist attraction and something unique to put Keswick on the map.”

The theatre is now busy throughout the year and sells, on average, more than 120,000 tickets per annum.

The Keswick to Penrith railway is expected to carry 250,000 to 450,000 passengers every year, said Mr. Martindale. However he warned against looking backwards to the early 1970s and a run-down single track branch with a sparse timetable that had barely changed since the 1860s.

In his latest message to supporters, Mr. Martindale said history was important, but simply recreating the past was not an answer, and a “proper” railway running all day every day at least once an hour would put Keswick on the map as well as saving fuel, relieving congestion, and facilitating regeneration and integration.

Hundreds of people have supported the development work by buying £400,000 worth of bonds and related items. “This huge swell of support deserved to be recognised and supported through the next stages the legal processes to bring it all to life,” he said.

The people of Keswick were very vocal when the line was proposed for closure in the 1960s and again in 1970, when they were ignored, said Mr. Martindale, adding that the benefits of the new railway would “resonate much further afield”.

Updating supporters, Mr. Martindale says developing and building a railway is relatively straightforward. However, moving from the design to a stage where trains run depends mainly on politics at several levels.

“Many of the people involved in the decision making process are not technically minded, but have to judge technical and other submissions. Patience and tolerance are needed in huge quantities to bring a transport project to life,” he added.