Commuters have expressed their relief after First Transpennine decided not to cancel a vital peak time rail service.
Regular users of the 5.06pm Windermere to Manchester train were to see the service cut from Monday, February 10, leaving a two hour gap in the timetable for anyone travelling to Lancaster, and a much longer journey involving several changes for anyone travelling further south.
The decision would have meant no available trains for the journey between 4.24pm and 6.22pm.
Several commuters set up an online petition and collected almost 500 signatures on the train, many from people who were unaware the service was about to be cancelled.
Commuter Dawn Groundsell, one of those behind the petition, said: “Many people, including me, rely on this train to commute to and from work. “We are really delighted First Transpennine has decided not to cancel the 5.30pm Monday-Thursday service from Kendal to Lancaster, and to reinstate the Friday 5.30pm service which it cancelled in December,” she said.
“Leaving a two hour hole in the timetable would’ve made commuting to work very difficult for many people, including myself, and some people told us they were thinking they would have to leave jobs that they would no longer be able to commute back from.
“We’d collected nearly 500 signatures in a week online and from passengers on the train – we are really pleased so many people have supported us and signed our petition.
“I’m very glad the train company has decided to listen to local train users and not prioritise through trains from London and Manchester to Scotland over local needs.
“We weren’t consulted over the proposed changes and we were told the timetables were set and so I’m very surprised and happy that they have made this change since we started campaigning in January.”
First Transpennine said the planned timetable change was due to the introduction of electrified trains on the West Coast Main Line, while only diesel trains can run on the Windermere to Oxenholme line.
To solve the problem, a Scottish train has had its time altered by a few minutes to accommodate a connection.
A spokesman said: “We have been acutely aware that there has been a gap in the timetable for a while due to bringing in new electric trains.
“We have been in consultation with local MPs and the public for a number of months and we have been able to find a solution.
“While we welcome the feedback of the campaign, this wasn’t as a direct result, but we are thankful for the input.”
South Lakes MP Tim Farron, who wrote to the chief executive of First Transpennine and asked them to think again about the plans, has welcomed the news.
“This is fantastic news and I want to thank local campaigners for their work on this,” he said.
“I told Transpennine that losing peak time trains could only hurt local businesses, so I’m delighted that they have thought again about this plan.
“It’s another success in our campaign to protect public transport in our area.”