Carnforth transport information centre to be transferred to new operator

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Carnforth Railway Station’s transport information centre is set to be transferred to a new operator.

Lancashire County Council said it will work to support the transfer of the service to Leeds-Morecambe Line, which is run by rail company Northern.

A report to the council’s cabinet on Thursday May 16 outlined the results of a consultation which resulted in expressions of interest from third parties to take over operation of information centres across the county.

It recommended supporting the transfer of the service at Carnforth Railway Station to Leeds-Morecambe Line, and supporting the transfer of the service at Clitheroe Interchange to Community Rail Lancashire (Clitheroe).

The report outlined that an assessment of expressions of interest received from these groups found they had put forward comprehensive and sustainable proposals with strong evidence of community benefit in the way services could be developed in the future.

An expression of interest had also been received from a commercial organisation for all the centres, however this was assessed as lacking evidence to support the overall business case or community benefit to support a transfer.

A further expression of interest received from an individual for Nelson transport information centre was assessed as lacking information about how the service could be sustained, and sought incentives requiring continued financial support from the council.

The cabinet agreed proposals to cease the services provided by the council at all four information centres, including one at Preston Bus Station, in line with previous cabinet resolutions, but to support the transition of the current operations to the two community rail partnership groups for Carnforth and Clitheroe TICs.

The report outlined that there could be no ‘transfer of service’ in the truest sense because the council’s agreement with a train operator to retail tickets, and leases for space within premises, would need to be negotiated by the third parties themselves. Closure of the TICs means that some of the staff currently providing the service may be made redundant if not redeployed.

It is the intention of the groups interested in providing services at Carnforth and Clitheroe to be in a position to take over the service within three to six months, and anticipated that the council will maintain services during this time.

The saving agreed by Full Council in February 2018 to be delivered by closing the centres was £156,000.

The delivery of the saving has been delayed while expressions of interest were considered. The exact timescales for delivery of the saving will depend upon when the sites are closed or transferred, however this will be managed within the public transport budget.