Plea for high speed trains to stop at Penrith

Date: Tuesday 4th December 2018

CUMBRIA Chamber of Commerce has secured a top-level meeting with a Government minister to demand that high-speed HS2 trains stop in the county.

A high-speed line is planned to be built from London to Wigan — carrying trains at speeds up to 225mph — but under current proposals these trains would continue over existing tracks to Scotland, without calling at Oxenholme, Penrith or Carlisle.

Cumbrian passengers would be forced to change at Preston. This, the chamber believes, will damage the county's economy.

Julian Whittle, the chamber's business engagement manager, will meet the minister for HS2, Nusrat Ghani, in London, on Friday, to make the case for Cumbrian stops to be reinstated.

Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: "We would be relegated to branch line status with a second-class service. While HS2 argues that, even with a change at Preston, the journey to London will be faster than it is now, many travellers value the convenience of a through service more than shaving a few minutes off their journey."

While HS2 says it is considering a stop in Carlisle, where the trains would divide into separate portions for Glasgow and Edinburgh, it has so far resisted all pleas to call at Penrith and Oxenholme.

At present, all trains between London and Glasgow call at Carlisle and many stop at Penrith and Oxenholme too.

"It is unthinkable that HS2 trains should pass through without stopping and that's what we will tell the minister.

"HS2 is a £56bn project to benefit the whole of the North. But Cumbria won't benefit if the trains don't stop here," added Mr Johnston.

The chamber is also making a submission to HS2 as part of a consultation that closes on 21st December.