Train worries unfounded

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Fears that Lancaster could lose out on train services have been described as “completely inaccurate” by rail company First Group.

The company was awarded the contract for the West Coast Mainline by the government earlier this month, and is due to take over the service from Virgin Trains on December 9.

Staff employed by Virgin at Lancaster would be transferred to First Group on that date, but Virgin has now launched a judicial review into the decision and a 160,000 name petition has also been produced online, also demanding a review.

Lancaster enjoys good links to both London in the south and Glasgow and Edinburgh in the north.

Former Lancaster city coun Dr John Whitelegg, visiting professor of sustainable transport at Liverpool John Moores University, told BBC Radio Lancashire on Wednesday that Lancaster could be completely by-passed as part of any new plans.

Dr Whitelegg was not available for further comment as the Lancaster Guardian went to press.

But Stuart Butchers, First Group’s corporate communications director said: “We will be adding an additional five services a day each way between Lancaster and London and from 2016 we will increase capacity on Birmingham-Lancaster-Glasgow trains from five to six cars with the introduction of new electric trains.

“We’ll also improve car parking at Lancaster station and will introduce a later evening departure from London to Lancaster.

“Therefore Lancaster will benefit from these timetable improvements, not lose out.”

He said that the five additional services would likely terminate at Lancaster, adding: “We will work with other train operators to ensure that regular services are available north of Lancaster, if our timetable changes do cause gaps in the service where before there weren’t any.”

Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Eric Ollerenshaw said he had a meeting arranged with First Group next week to discuss the plans.