Rail passengers having to endurelongest bus replacement service in country?

Date: Friday 26th May 2017

Sir, As a frequent visitor to this area I was very interested to read your recent articles on the Settle-Carlisle line. It was very pleasing to know that Network Rail repairs to the Settle-Carlisle railway were completed within time and budget.

The fact that trains hauled by steam locomotive were used in February and March added a touch of nostalgia to the reopening.

However, noting that the west coast main line north of Preston was closed on two weekends in April, and will be closed again for spring bank holiday Monday, it is with sadness and frustration that I find Network Rail and the operators concerned are forcing passengers for Carlisle and Scotland on to buses at Preston station. This must be the longest bus replacement service in the United Kingdom.

Noting the recent money spent on the Settle-Carlisle line on the repairs, as well as the intermediate block signalling and track upgrade, surely the operators could run a diesel shuttle service between Preston and Carlisle via Settle during this engineering work.

Virgin Trains certainly has the units, as it managed a similar exercise last year between Carlisle and Glasgow when the main route via Lockerbie was closed.

I also cannot understand the attitude of Network Rail which, after spending another chunk of money, is happy for its asset not to be used, although it is willing to pay for coach services up the M6 when the main line is closed.

Surely it is time for the train operators and Network Rail to see some sense and use the rail assets that are available before rail’s primary competition is used. Yours etc,