New councils urged to back rail line revival plan

Date: Friday 20th May 2011

LOCAL councils are being urged not to take fright at the potential cost of reviving the Penrith to Keswick rail link.

Cedric Martindale, the man behind the project, said that new faces would be taking their place on town, district and county councils following the recent elections and this meant that new people might have less knowledge about the railway and the benefits it could bring to the area.

He said: “Local authorities are often frightened that any such project could be a drain on their resources. This is not the case with the Keswick to Penrith railway.

“It is not something that the local authorities would be expected to develop or fund to any great extent, but their support and positive policies are essential for speedy approval and construction, bringing their areas many benefits.”

Mr. Martindale said saving resources, boosting the local economy, reducing car dependency, connecting communities and allowing more mobility for everyone without causing congestion or spoiling the landscape were all ways in which the railway would make a positive contribution.

“The benefits will be felt not just in Keswick and the North Lakes, but will also help West Cumbria become better connected and allow Penrith and Eden to deal with traffic, tourism and economic issues while prompting new train service patterns which could extend across much more of the North,” he said.

Writing in his latest newsletter, Mr. Martindale says political understanding and support are essential for the next stages of the project.

Approximately £400,000 has already been spent on the technical and environmental stages of the project, much of it funded by bonds and the capital, running into several tens of thousands of pounds, supplied by the directors of CKP Railways plc, and Mr. Martindale says the legal stages could cost almost as much again.

The amount needed might sound daunting, but, says Mr. Martindale, it would be the springboard to the final commercial stages of the project.

“The construction costs and the future income from train operators paying to use the line can be linked to cover much of the physical cost after the legal stages,” he writes.

“This is the stage, therefore, where the project needs some serious funding to be in place to move on.”

Supporters, including local residents, businesses, tourism bodies, visitors and anyone interested in the future sustainability of the Lake District, are being urged to contact the new councillors, leaders and chief executives to tell them how much they think the railway is needed.