New rail strategy including plans for Eden ‘gateway’ would benefit Lancaster district

Lancaster City Council has welcomed the launch of a new Rail Strategy which aims to identify improvements on the Morecambe to Leeds Railway Line.

By Gayle Rouncivell
Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 3:14 pm

The Bentham Line: Strategy to 2042 has been produced by the Leeds-Morecambe Community Rail Partnership.

Among the objectives it identifies are an increase to service frequency, reduction of journey times, improvement of the range of destinations being directly served from stations along the route, and improvements to station facilities and infrastructure.

The strategy includes 21 different options for further promotion and exploration, a number of which would benefit the Lancaster district.

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The plans include the creation of an Eden North Gateway in Morecambe, improvements to Lancaster railway station (pictured) and upgrades to services and infrastructure at Carnforth.

These include the creation of an Eden North Gateway in Morecambe, improvements to Lancaster railway station and upgrades to services and infrastructure at Carnforth. The strategy also highlights the potential for exploring the business case for improvements to the Heysham Port branch line.

Decarbonisation of the rail network is an overriding theme of the document, and whilst the strategy accepts that progress regarding rail decarbonisation requires a comprehensive, network-wide view, there is the potential for early decarbonisation of the Morecambe branch line, either via low-cost electrification or the deployment of battery-operated trains.

Lancaster City Council has had discussions with partners regarding decarbonisation possibilities as part of its response to the climate emergency and in readiness for the delivery of the Eden North Project.

Coun Gina Dowding, the council’s cabinet member for planning and place, said: “Making improvements to the rail network is a vital part of tackling carbon emissions and achieving net zero across the district, while providing better public transport options for residents. This new report contains a number of practical options of how this can be achieved and I welcome its publication.”

“Significant progress is being made in tackling the devastating impact of climate change and meeting the council’s ambitious target of making its activities net zero by 2030. However, our own emissions are only a small part of the picture. It is good to see other sectors focused on net zero carbon plans.”

Coun Peter Yates, a longstanding advocate of improvements to the rail network, said: “I welcome the identification of opportunities for improving services along the Bentham railway line. This East-West line forms a vital rail connection for tourism and business and the enhancement of services and infrastructure has the capability to deliver economic benefits for everyone along the route.

"The potential for decarbonising motive power is essential to delivering a rail network fit for the 21st Century. Carnforth is a key rail junction to all points of the country and the town has a critical role to play as part of an integrated railway network."